Gold Star Feed & Grain Co.

Exceptional customer service generates success for Northeast feed and grain supplier
Written by: 
Tom Faunce
Produced by: 
Drew Taylor

With mills in Augusta, Maine, Sangerfield, New York, and Adams Center, New York, Gold Star Feed & Grain Co. (also known as Gold Star Feed & Grain LLC) was formed in 2012 and has been providing its customers with custom dairy feed ever since. A subsidiary of J.D. Heiskell & Co., Gold Star Feed & Grain began when assets were purchased from Kent Nutrition and operated as a joint venture with Kent for the first year. “Kent is focusing on their core business and they transitioned these mills over to us over the course of a year,” says Andy Dugan, general manager of Gold Star Feed & Grain. “We’re focused on bulk dairy business.”

Gold Star Feed & Grain concentrates on three primary aspects of the industry for its foundation of business: grain, commodity marketing and mixed feed. “We’re very active in the grain and commodity marketing business,” says Dugan. “The mixed feed business is our foundation as a company.”

Generating customized solutions

Not only does Gold Star Feed & Grain listen attentively to what customers want and need, the company also strives to help customers to determine exactly what those requirements are in the case that they are unsure. Through supply chains, milling efficiencies and delivering capabilities, Gold Star Feed & Grain is able to execute with unparalleled precision and quality.

With its smooth-flowing operation and attention to customer service, Gold Star Feed & Grain is able to thrive in a strong market where the company finds itself competing with national and regional companies across Maine and upstate New York. “The success that we have comes from listening to our customers,” says Dugan. “In such a competitive market, it is crucial that we are the most efficient in supply chain and delivery.” Serving a 75-mile radius of its three mills, Gold Star Feed & Grain has found that the family farms it serves continue to grow each year. Due to its high quality and exceptional customer service, the company has been able to grow and expand with its customers.

Gold Star Feed & Grain has placed substantial investments in each of its three mills. Upgrades to facilities included an entire meal loadout system in Augusta when the company significantly increased its meal feed business. Gold Star Feed & Grain also added a substantial grinding system at its Adams Center location to accommodate its grinding volume, which increased by 100 percent.

The company plans to continue to invest in the facilities in the next three years. It is currently installing a grain tank and grain elevator to account for the increase in grain volume. “As you grow you put pressure on your production system so you have to invest to fix those pressure points,” says Dugan. “Our role is to be able to serve our customers’ needs, so we adapt however we need to.”

With the different requirements of clients, Gold Star Feed & Grain embraces the desire of customers to work with private dairy consultants. By sourcing unique ingredients, the company has been successful at balancing forage weaknesses such as sugar and starch products. “We’re the only company that has a liquid methionine system,” says Dugan. “That’s the most economical way to get methionine into an animal.”

Although Gold Star Feed & Grain does not have a Ph.D. nutritionist on staff, the company utilizes what it calls “dairy specialists” who are in charge of running the nutritional dynamic system (NDS) rumen model to optimize rations for customers. “Basically our sales and nutritionists are one person,” Dugan explains. “Most of our dairy specialists are American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) certified.” In order for an individual to become ARPAS certified, they must pass a written exam expressing competence in dairy nutrition. Dugan himself studied animal science and agriculture economics at Cornell University and has been in the feed and grain industry his entire career.

Looking ahead

Dugan says that one of the most important aspects of Gold Star Feed & Grain’s business is to stay current with the emerging needs of its customers. One method of accomplishing this is to continue to attract young people to the company. Witnessing professionals develop as employees of Gold Star Feed & Grain is one of Dugan’s favorite aspects about his business. “We’re in an industry that we love,” he says. “It’s not for spectators, it’s for participants. I love to see people that are fully engaged and are invested in the company because we are not successful without them. We also enjoy seeing the farms we service be successful.”

As a relatively young company, Gold Star Feed & Grain Co. has found a recipe for success. With unmatched quality and customer service, the company has a bright future in the agriculture industry.

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