Domain Inc.: Investing in Quality Feed Solutions
Domain Inc. (Domain) is a Wisconsin-based manufacturer and distributor of feed for the dairy and beef industry, with roots dating back over 100 years. Bill Buell, owner, president and CEO of Domain, has been with the company since 1988. Buell purchased Domain from his parents and siblings to become sole owner in 2000.
Through the company’s long history a few things have changed over the years, including the expansion of Domain’s geography footprint. Domain’s wide selection of products to keep livestock both healthy and productive has secured the company’s growth. The company owns a fleet of trucks for direct distribution to regional customers, extending to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Washington and New York, as well as through various distributorships nationwide.
The team at Domain specializes in high-quality feed for dairy and beef cows and cattle. “What makes us unique is our ability to service our customers,” says Buell. “This business moves extremely fast. We take an order today and custom manufacture feed to be shipped out the next day. We turn inventory around very quickly.” In order to continue reliable, fast, custom service, Buell and the Domain team continue to invest internally, bringing upgrades to facility equipment as well as technology to optimize the operation.
Recently Domain has upgraded software and process controls in the company’s mill. “We reinvest in new technology to improve our flexibility and to keep prices low for our customers,” Buell explains. “It also allows us to work with proprietary nutrition technology to create custom mixes that meet the needs of our customers’ animals.”
Reinvesting internally allows the team to concentrate on what is most important: customer results. Domain’s specialty line of dairy feed products is manufactured under the Doboy Feeds (Doboy) trademark. Doboy offers specialized nutrition for both cows and calves in dairy operations, including lactating cows, transition cows and calves.
The team at Domain works with farmers to produce specialty mixes and additives to improve cows’ health and productivity. A team of consultants is readily available, helping client and company mutually establish specific business goals, determine nutritional content and potential feeding programs and set benchmarks to measure desired results.
Domain’s Tend-R-Leen branded feed is specially crafted to supply nutrients to beef cattle, resulting in leaner carcasses that improves the quality of the end product. The feeding program produces higher gains and higher quality beef to help clients improve profit margins while maintaining a consistently valuable product.
Ensuring every potential client is covered, Domain is constantly developing new products and systems to meet the changing needs of the industry. “We’ve recently introduced a proprietary ration balancing system that balances rations for amino acids,” says Buell. “For every farm we work with, we take samples of the forages. We analyze the nutritional value of what they have and craft a ration based on that.”
Domain is utilizing high-tech software that balances rations for amino acids, as well. “We use a fairly complex set of equations that allows us to deliver the kind of production at cost levels that our customers want,” says Buell. “All of our competitors are using similar technology, so we’re always pushing the envelope to offer greater nutrition, production and health results than our competition. We’ll continue to use the technological side of things to help customers get what they need from our products.”
Managing Market Changes
Working as a supplier in the agricultural sector, Domain is constantly dealing with challenges ranging from commodity prices to competition to weather variances and a consolidating customer base. “Traditional dairies are becoming fewer and fewer,” explains Buell. “Everything has become more or less a milk production factory, and we’re working with adapting to that. Commodity markets are also changing constantly.”
The constant market change is nothing to worry Buell and the team, as Domain is determined to stay ahead. “We’re continuing to cater to dairies,” says Buell. “That’s our strength and we always have to make sure that in the equation. We bring value. We have to examine who our customers are all the time. We’re looking forward to diversifying a bit, but for the next three to five years, I see us sticking with the beef and dairy market.”
The company has also changed up how it does business, outsourcing tasks and production that is more efficiently performed outside of the Domain facility. “We used to manufacture milk replacer here, but now we rely on other suppliers for that,” says Buell. “We have partners that operate our forages analyses. We outsource payroll and IT. The key is to focus on what we know. That way we’re running a lean operation.”
Subcontractors and suppliers are a vital investment for Domain, and the business only changes suppliers when product innovations require additional resources. Domain has worked with many of the same trusted strategic partners for years, and such relationships help to keep costs low and value high.
Buell believes that the future of Domain, the industry and his community are becoming more independent. “We’re lucky in this industry in that most of us are self-reliant people,” Buell explains. “Our livelihood is heavily related to the weather. There’s a self-reliance crafted on those experiences.”
As the industry changes, Buell is also looking forward to developing leadership within his business, as well as with partners. “We need people who will keep up this business’ creativity and adaptability,” he says.
According to Buell, he believes that his team has been a key component in the company’s success. Buell is looking to prepare Domain Inc. for future success in feed production and sales.