Larry Dearing, founder and president of DASCO Inc. (DASCO), had the opportunity to make the best use of his business career after 35 years of working with fertilizer manufacturing companies. “I’ve been in this industry since 1966,” shares Larry. “Before DASCO, I worked for a phosphate manufacturing company. When the company was sold to a Canadian corporation, I was contacted by some past customers to ask for assistance in identifying new supply options and that’s how things really began.”
In 1996, with the support of his wife, Larry started DASCO out of his home. “For the first three months we did everything over the phone, selling major crop nutrients, including anhydrous ammonia, urea, ammonia nitrate and phosphate almost exclusively to privately held ag retailers,” he details.
Growing Across the Midwest
In October 1997, Larry and his wife moved the company into a small office in Monument, Colo., and hired an employee to handle sales support. “We had changed the company’s name twice, but finally ended up with its current designation,” says Larry. “Operations took off and I started traveling 50 percent of the time to Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, the western U.S. and Mexico.”
Larry began to grow the company focusing on crop nutrient business. “The ag market has changed dramatically over the last 17 years and so has DASCO,” explains Larry. “Ten years ago we had five employees and now we have 27. In 2003 we made the decision that we wanted to grow in a certain way and we brought John Ringkob [now vice president of DASCO] in as a key person to help us accomplish our objectives. John leads our crop nutrient, industrial and feed ingredient business units in addition to managing domestic supply. Since John joined DASCO we’ve grown about 35 percent per year.”
Larry explains that he was looking for someone to head the company’s sales efforts and help expand DASCO’s market penetration. “I hired a few key people, including John and a current owner.”
These additions allowed DASCO to expand into more states. “We also began to focus on supplying the entire ag retail market, from independents and cooperatives to national distributors,” he explains.
Value Up and Down the Chain
DASCO is based in Englewood, Colo., but has grown to play a much larger role, supplying numerous industries in 42 states nationwide and eight foreign countries. “DASCO is a leading supplier of crop nutrients, feed ingredients, industrial chemicals, water treatment chemicals, fire retardants and diesel exhaust fluid [DEF] for companies throughout North, Central and South America, Australia, Asia and Europe,” details Larry. “We pride ourselves on extraordinary customer service, unmatched supply chain management and world supply-demand information that facilitates more profitable business for our customers.”
Larry explains how DASCO utilizes an understanding of the supply and demand chain on both the supplier and customer’s side to bring value to all parties. “We understand the marketplace and what brings value,” he continues. “We focus on understanding our suppliers’ needs and finding ways through the distribution channel to deliver value to them, as well.”
DASCO continues to expand its product line in order to better serve the needs of an array of customers. “Two years ago we added the DEF business to the lineup,” shares Larry. “DEF is a high-purity urea solution used with new diesel engines equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction [SCR] systems to meet the EPA’s latest strict emissions standards. DASCO’S network of domestic and international suppliers ensures that we have the DEF solutions for your needs.”
Larry goes on to detail that the company has added a number of ingredients to its animal feed offering and increased its distribution capabilities with additional warehouse space. “We continue to manage our transportation, accounting, sales and distribution all in-house and we have developed specialized software to help us accomplish tasks,” he continues.
However, Larry says this kind of expansion doesn’t come without challenges. “I’ve been pretty fortunate to not have too many surprises in this business, but one of my biggest surprises has been the challenge of getting middle management personnel in place to sustain 35 percent annual growth,” he explains. “A year or so ago we hit a plateau. We’ve gotten some key positions filled, but still face challenges getting everyone up to speed.”
Aside from hiring and training a quality team, Larry says the chemical supply industry has also thrown some curve balls DASCO’s way. “There have been some fundamental changes in the chemical industry,” shares Larry. “Since 2006, the chemicals we deal with have been in short supply, but in recent years, new capacity around the world has resulted in an oversupply and margins have changed.”
But Larry says the challenges are to be expected, because it’s all part of the ever-changing supply and demand. For 17 years DASCO Inc. has navigated the cycles of supply and demand in the ag industry and other industrial applications, easing the burden on customers and making business run smoother.