Famo Feeds Inc.
Famo Feeds Inc. has been serving livestock producers in the Midwest since 1903 when the business was originally founded. In the 1970s, the Beste family purchased the company. Al Beste, the company’s former owner and president, is less active in day-to-day operations. Now his sons, John and Tom Beste, serve respectively as president and vice president of the family business. Famo Feeds has grown steadily over the years and serves farmers in the Midwest as a leading Animal Nutrition Company.
“The company actually started out as a grain and flour business,” Tom explains. “Over time, the feed aspect came into play and eventually became the sole focus. Famo Feeds has always been a family business, though our family has been in ownership since the 1970s. My brother and I oversee day-to-day operations and I have a son who just started working here in summer 2014 after graduating from St. John’s University.”
Standing out in the market
The feed manufacturer stays ahead through modern equipment and safe, efficient operations. “We use a lot of computerized technology and software to make a high-quality product and maintain efficiencies,” says John. “We are fully HACCP certified and we pay attention to the food industry model when we are making our products. We stay active with initiatives such as the hazard analysis and critical control points program and Safe Feed, Safe Food (SF/SF). We are very proactive.”
Sourcing is another major component of food safety for Famo Feeds. The company maintains seven critical control points in the plant that are constantly monitored. “Our software, tracking and automation systems all lead into that,” notes John. “Then there is also just the human involvement in our system, which means paying attention, auditing and writing up corrective actions among other things.”
Famo Feeds is in the loop when it comes to industry standards. “We are very efficient and very quality-product-oriented,” explains John. “Customer satisfaction is strong because of the systems and people we have in place to support our mission. Our people, our products and our service help us maintain good relationships with our customers.”
Quality, specialized products
Famo Feeds has an established customer base in the upper Midwest. “We can distribute very well there, though there is always room for more,” explains Tom. “We have our own fleet of trucks and we also have customers that send in their own trucks for pickup or they work with trucking companies that come in and pick it up and take it out for them. Wisconsin, with all the dairy cows they have, is a growing market for us.”
Throughout the region, producers have come to count on Famo Feeds for quality nutritional products for a range of animal needs. “Our whole animal feed business is designed around supplementing whatever the farmer doesn’t produce himself,” notes Tom. “We have a strong market in lactation herds, which is custom because every dairy farm has its own mix. With other product lines, it is less customized. We offer a range of mainline products to cater to more standardized nutritional needs.”
As far as the upper Midwest goes, Tom, John and their team stand out as leaders in building products to support lactating dairy diets. “We build from a component-based approach – not relying on outside premixes to be brought in from other companies – thus reducing the cost of the nutritional supplements for the producer,” he says. “That can run from a small inclusion product to a larger type inclusion, depending on what the customer needs supplemented.
“We have a nutrition staff that consults with farmers on their feeding programs and the goals they want to obtain. That includes three in-house nutritionists with Ph.Ds. – and one is also a veterinarian. They work within the industry and also work with our group of customers and nutritional representatives that go to farms and visit with producers.”
Specialty animal nutrition products, such as those manufactured by Famo Feeds, help keep farm animals healthy and improve herd yields. “We all try to do that in our families; your children eat healthy and proper,” notes Tom. “We benefit by not having them become ill and sick as frequently, and it works the same way with animals. Of course sometimes you catch a cold anyway, but proper nutrition provides a good foundation for health.”
Famo Feeds continues to adapt in order to provide products and services that meet the demand of modern producers. John says the team has seen growth in its Herd Builder line of products for baby calf nutrition, where the business is refining products based on new research that has come out. Famo Feeds has also adjusted its product line to better cater to the the automation of feeding these calves, destined for lactation herds, through building products that go along with those automated feeder systems.
“We also have seen growth in the feeding of dairy steers,” he adds. “These are not the calves that make it to the milking cow herd. These are the male calves that are born and get fed up for beef consumption. We have a growing emphasis on those types of programs and products.”
Outside of the dairy and cattle focus, Famo Feeds maintains a strong line of products for other animals. “We have developed multiple lines of coproducts to feed lots of different animals,” says John.. “We have feeds for horses, gamebirds, chicks, rabbits, etc. – a well-rounded line of offerings.
With a have a history of service, trusting relationships with customers and a forward-thinking approach to specialty animal nutrition, Famo Feeds is continuing to grow. To accommodate that growth, the company makes consistent upgrades to facilities, equipment and software to maximize efficiency and quality control.
“The plant is relatively new,” John says. “At 12 years old, we have one of the newer facilities in the country. We have done many enhancements along the way, including an addition of 25,000 square feet about three years ago. That has allowed us to increase our handling capacity.”
“On top of that, we always seem to be replacing PLCs and computers or updating our customized software,” adds Tom. “Right now we are looking at new lighting. Lightbulbs these days are getting more efficient. We have a lot of lightbulbs and we try to stay as environmentally friendly as possible.”
The Beste brothers look forward to continuing to build on the company’s core strengths: dairy animals. “Our focus is the dairy cow and all aspects of feeding that cow,” he says “We want to cover every transition the animal goes through, from birth to raising the calves and into milk production.”
While the agricultural industry presents a constant flow of new challenges, Tom says they are balanced out by the opportunities. “That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning,” he explains. “It seems that every day is full of both. I enjoy the challenge of working at the helm of a family business, whether I am involved in problem-solving or working with a new client. We have pretty well-rounded management team in place. All of our team members are good at managing their own affairs and tenure here is pretty deep.”
With a strong management team in place, Famo Feeds Inc. will continue to drive forward with innovative products and nutrition services to help producers throughout the upper Midwest build healthy herds.