Hoover Feed Services Inc.
Since 1972, Hoover Feed Services Inc. (HFS) has been providing dairy producers throughout northern Indiana with the feed and related services they need to succeed in an ever-changing marketplace.
Located in Goshen, Indiana, HFS serves customers within a 100-mile radius of its headquarters. A focus on specialized mixes sets the company apart from the competition, with the company blending up more than 500 custom feeds over its 40-plus years in the business.
“We continue to feel like we’re offering more than most leading feed manufacturers and are trying to stay on the leading edge of it,” says Herb Hoover, president of HFS. “The farmers are more independent in what they need and unlike feed plants that force them to use the formula that’s used across the board, we make specific blends for their farms. That’s what we’ve always done.”
New products drive growth
As a second-generation owner and lifelong feed industry professional, Hoover has the experience necessary to help the company succeed during a difficult, uncertain time in the industry as the dairy industry. Many dairy producers are currently facing industrywide consolidation, a trend that has had a direct effect on Hoover’s own business.
“As they get bigger their margins are tighter so they need all the latest technology and services available. I think in the future business is really going to go to those people who can supply those needs and give them more flexibility in terms on their ingredients and services,” he says.
To this end, Hoover is working to introduce expanded pelleting and textured feed capabilities, with plans to double its pelleting capacity when it moves to a new facility in 2017.
“Non-GMO and organic feeds are also definitely making their way into the industry. We’re not currently doing any of that, but we may explore it,” says Hoover.
Relocation leads to expanded capabilities
In the coming year, HS will move to a new, larger facility in Goshen. The move, spurred by the construction of a new road through its current facility, has long been a topic of discussion at HFS and is finally being put into action, according to Hoover.
“Every few years they would bring up the construction of the new road and drop it, so the uncertainty of it was frustrating. We were planning to expand in phases, but now we’re doing it all at once,” he says.
The new facility sits on a generous 34 acres in contrast to HFS’ current 1.5-acre site and will allow the feed company to increase its grain handling capacity and integrate some of the newest technology into the process.
“It’s going to include all the latest technology there is on controls, and we’ll be adding some grain handling equipment we didn’t have before for grain and grain drying,” says Hoover.
While grain handling was previously subbed out to other grain elevators, the new facility will allow HFS to bring that capability back in-house. The addition of new controls technology will also allow HFS to more easily comply with new regulations around commodities.
“They’re considering animal feed basically under the same regulations as food, so that’s going to add some cost to the consumer in the end but it’s a little but up in the air in terms of how much they’re going to enforce it,” he says.
Wide-ranging consolidation in the industry is another challenging issue facing feed suppliers like HFS, which must place an increased focus on customer service in order to remain competitive. “It’s constantly changing and isn’t necessarily good for the local farmers, so I think we can fill a niche and react a little quicker than some of the bigger ones,” says Hoover.
HFS must also contend with the challenge of integrating the next generation of workers into the business. While Hoover echoes some complaints commonly cited when it comes to millennials workers — a sense of entitlement, preoccupation with personal electronics —he says that he works hard to judge every worker by their own merit instead of stereotypes.
“I have some of the very best of that group and other who think we owe them something. The ones who think they can just take from the company – they get sifted out, but I think the potential for them I think is wide-open,” he says.
As a faith-based enterprise, Hoover does not measure success solely in terms of revenue, instead factoring in the company’s ability to support the livelihoods of the farmers who have come to count of HFS’ service over the years.
“For myself, I have a faith in God. So, in the end, I am just trying to be a good steward of what he has given me. We have to make money, but it’s really a service to the farming community. We are doing the work and God is adding the blessing. It’s a big part of our life,” he says.
With a new facility increasing capacity, a commitment to integrating younger workers and a faith-based approach to business, Hoover Feed Services Inc. will continue to serve producers throughout northern Indiana for years to come.