Founded in 2005 as a joint venture between Australia-based Feedworks Pty Ltd., Malcolm Ballard and Tim Byrd, Feedworks USA represents feed additive companies that are looking to introduce their products into the North American market. In a little over 10 years, Feedworks USA has built a strong footprint in the American feed industry by forming strong relationships across the industry, representing quality products, and helping the manufacturers it represents with regulatory compliance, research and sales.
An equal partnership
Feedworks USA has capitalized upon the expertise and backgrounds of its three partners — Malcolm Ballard, Tim Byrd and Peter Williams — to connect manufacturers of feed additives with American producers, nutritionists, feed companies, and swine and poultry integrators across the country.
After completing degrees in animal science and swine nutrition in the United Kingdom, Malcolm Ballard began his professional career with a multinational amino acid manufacturer, where he provided technical assistance to distributors across Europe. It was at this time that he was first introduced to the central role that distributors like Feedworks USA play in the industry. The international footprint of his employer brought him to the United States in the late 1980s, where he worked with distributors on technical expertise and sales. With the company’s services extending to approximately half of the U.S. market, this position also helped him to build strong relationships with American producers, nutritionists and feed companies. His sales background, technical experience and relationships across the American feed industry have proved pivotal to providing the foundation to partner with Tim Byrd and Feedworks Ltd. to launch the company in 2005.
Unlike Malcolm, partner Tim Byrd built his career entirely in the American feed industry. Byrd has developed considerable expertise in the ruminant, dairy and pet food industries since his career began in 1976 at a cooperative in the southeastern United States. While he has experience in both manufacturing and logistics, his specialization is sales. Eventually, he left the cooperative to take a couple of positions marketing spent brewer’s grains — first in the Southeast and then further north in Ohio. A couple of years after moving north, he accepted a position at a Midwestern company responsible for selling brewer’s yeast to the companion animal and dairy industries. While in this role, he began to expand his geographical footprint and his contacts across the country beyond the Southeast and eastern Midwest. Because Byrd’s background was strongest in the dairy industry and Ballard’s expertise was in the swine and monogastric industries, Byrd’s decision to join Feedworks USA was crucial in providing complementary expertise and vital contacts in the dairy industry.
As with Ballard, partner Peter Williams’ career has spanned from an undergraduate degree in animal science in the United Kingdom to a partnership in Feedworks USA. One of Williams’ first jobs after completing his degree was to work around the world as a photojournalist. Williams believes that this training was highly effective in preparing him for a career in sales, reflecting that, “I had always felt there was a bit of a gap between the science that was produced by researchers and the rest of the Agricultural industry. I think I was reasonably good at taking a fairly technical story and translating that into something that could be understood by nutritionists [and] farmers.” Upon returning to the United Kingdom, he served as the southeastern UK sales manager for one of Britain’s largest feed manufactures and then as general manager in the UK and Ireland for a Switzerland-based essential oil manufacturer. In the early 2000s, the company underwent a series of mergers and acquisitions and, in the process, Williams moved to the United States to oversee its feed additive sales in America. This helped Williams familiarize himself with the American feed industry, develop contacts amongst all species, and eventually introduced him to the team at Feedworks USA. Williams joined Feedworks USA in 2007 as a partner and his strong sales background and expertise in ingredients have contributed greatly to the company’s success.
Diverse expertise in action
The unique backgrounds, differing areas of specialization, and extensive contacts of each partner have provided the company with a strong foundation. The partnership between Ballard, Byrd, and Williams helps explain how in just a little over a decade, Feedworks USA has been able to secure a strong foothold in the American feed additive market.
By drawing upon their contacts in the European and Australian feed industry, the team at Feedworks USA has built a strong portfolio of high-quality feed additives to sell to the American market. Feedworks USA has the exclusive rights to market a number of products in the U.S. These products include Celtic Sea Mineral’s Calmin, a natural rumen conditioner with bio-available minerals, ETX-5 from Impextraco, which, through research, has shown to help eliminate mycotoxins in feed, and AB Vista’s Vista Pre-T, a ruminant enzyme. In addition to these products, which are manufactured overseas, Feedworks USA recently added its first additive from the United States to its portfolio, Mbiotix. As a lactobacillus feed additive or probiotic, Mbiotix contributes to the gut-health management of calves.
While only Calmin is technically an organic product, all of Feedworks USA’s products are all natural. As such, they provide producers with a means to increase animal health and nutrition without using medications. Ballard highlights this characteristic of Feedworks USA’s product line as an additional niche in that the company is highly competitive within the all-natural feed industry.
For the international manufacturers it represents, the first step in allowing the company to sell to the American feed market is to ensure it meets U.S. regulatory standards. The team at Feedworks USA has experience, as a result, in working with its manufacturers to acquire full Food and Drug Administration approval to sell its product in the United States. In other words, Feedworks USA serves as more than just a sales consultant for the manufacturers it represents; it is a true partner to the manufacturers it represents in helping their products go to market.
Promoting long-term value
In addition to managing the regulatory and compliance needs of its manufacturers, Feedworks USA conducts research to illustrate the high return on cost to its customers. Feedworks USA partners with suppliers to share the cost of product testing, working with research universities and institutes, as well as large feed companies and integrated producers. The educational effort is particularly significant due to the natural ebbs and flows in the Agricultural industry. For instance, as Ballard explains, during the decline in milk prices around 2010, producers were greatly concerned with keeping their overhead down and were hesitant to invest in a higher-priced feed. It was necessary, therefore, to prove unequivocally through research that Feedworks USA’s products are highly valuable and that its customers see a strong return on their investments.
Communicating its research to the industry is one part of Feedworks USA’s sales strategy and how it goes to market. The company approaches sales by building relationships and networking with the grassroots producers, nutritionists, feed companies, and swine and poultry integrators across the country.
Adapting alongside a changing industry
In addition to its ability to network directly with producers and nutritionists to increase demand for its products, the evolution of the feed industry is also contributing to the growth of Feedworks USA. The first of the two dominant trends that Ballard highlights as crucial in positioning Feedworks USA to continue to grow is the industry’s increased demand for all-natural and organic products. Its product line is positioned well to take advantage of this strong trend in the industry.
While there are many reasons producers and feed companies are selling more all-natural and organic feeds, the upcoming implementation of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) in early 2017 is expected to increase demand for non-medicated feed additives like the products Feedworks USA markets. Because the VFD will require the industry to secure a veterinarian’s prescription to use drugs in animal feed products, many producers, nutritionists and feed companies are interested in alternative organic or all-natural additives which can be just as effective in improving animal health. As a result, Feedworks USA is in position to adapt to the evolution of the industry and continue to grow throughout its second decade.
The future is exciting and daunting for the U.S. livestock feed industry. Feedworks USA will be continually looking at new products. Identifying, evaluating and marketing the products that will have a positive impact for the success of the American producer. Having the right people in the market is also key. Along with new products, Feedworks USA will bring people to their team that that can work with feed nutritionist, feed manufactures and producers. With the combination of products and people, Feedworks USA will be positioned to help the American farmer do what they do best: put high quality, low-cost and nutritious food on the table.