Lortscher Animal Nutrition Inc.
The history of Lortscher Animal Nutrition Inc. can be traced back to 1948, when Dave and Marjorie Lortscher established the business as Lortscher Agri Service Inc., a diverse agronomy business in Bern, Kansas. Over the years, the business evolved and in 2012, Lortscher Animal Nutrition Inc. was established to house as the animal nutrition division of Lortscher Agri Service Inc.
Lortscher Animal Nutrition has been a leader in the pet and animal food business for more than 50 years and now more than ever, serves as a premier provider of complete dry flours, component blends and ingredients for animal food manufacturers throughout the United States and beyond.
Brent Lortscher, company president and third-generation owner and operator of Lortscher Animal Nutrition is a professional engineer. His expertise in the mechanical aspects of operation have helped to boost production, efficiency and product consistency for the business, allowing the company to provide high-quality animal food ingredients to processors and manufacturers with added value and fast turnaround time.
Brent works alongside a strong team of employees, including administrative staff, production technicians, animal nutrition experts and managers. Lane Lott serves as the company’s business development manager, working to effectively serve existing markets and establish new ones. Lisa Kidd works closely with Lane as a customer service representative, building relationships with customers and helping to ensure their needs are met through the company’s diverse selection of products and services.
Lisa relates the company’s operations to baking for those less familiar with the milling process. “We combine and process all the dry ingredients,” she explains. “If we were working with cookies, we would be the people adding the flour, baking soda, the chocolate chips. We help formulate then blend and process these mixtures to our customers exacting specifications. The dry blend is then sent to the co-packing facility chosen by the customer where all wet ingredients are added and the extrusion or baking of the final product takes place.”
Unlike home baking, Lortscher Animal nutrition sources and processes more than 700 ingredients – and not just any ingredients will do. Every supplier for Lortscher Animal Nutrition must meet the company’s stringent standards for ingredient specifications, product safety, sanitation and manufacturing practices. The business accepts only the highest quality ingredients and upholds the same standards of food safety, confirmed through third-party auditors. All ingredients and processes meet FDA, USDA and/or AAFCO requirements.
Better quality through technology
With so many ingredients to track, technology plays an important role in organizing operations at Lortscher Animal Nutrition. Beyond providing complete flours and component blends, the company also provides ingredient sourcing and packing services for clients. The company’s warehouse is organized and rotated much like a grocery store. Each item has a place and the team abides by a “first-in, first-out” system for storing and moving materials.
To help facilitate the busy day-to-day functionality of the business, the company has established an online customer portal. This new system allows businesses that rely on Lortscher Animal Nutrition to utilize an in-house formulation software and ingredient database to setup what-if scenarios for the company’s companion animal formulas. The portal will also allow customers to have ready access to needed QC and ingredient information. For warehousing/distribution partners, it will allow for close monitoring and management of distribution items in either the Bern, Kansas, or Brownwood, Texas, facilities.
In the company’s facility in Bern, the business is currently undergoing a technological overhaul. In addition to the new customer portal, Lortscher Animal Nutrition is improving automation, building in efficiencies that will further increase turnover and boost customer satisfaction.
“We have had computerization for a long time, but this is a big upgrade for us,” says Lisa. “We are integrating automatic, digital tracking to all of our processes. From a service perspective, we know that our customers are looking for information and they want it as soon as possible. The more quickly we can pull that information, the better. They will be able to find out where an order is at in the process, the estimated date of delivery and even the lot number for standalone ingredients or ingredients in the mix.”
“Another aspect of this upgrade is accuracy,” Lane adds. “Our business has a large amount of human input as far as labor goes. This system tracks what we are doing, allowing us to monitor and manage whether we are following the correct protocol, effectively making it easier for us to achieve consistency. With a facility that is running 24/7, 357 days a year, this technology will make a big impact on the way we operate.”
Keeping up with the market
Beyond the nuts and bolts, a major component of Lortscher Animal Nutrition’s success throughout the years has been responsiveness to customer needs and market changes. The practice of sourcing is constantly in flux. Customers are always looking for something new and different and the team is constantly ready to deliver.
“Everyone is always looking for the next big thing,” Lane notes. “Of course there are only so many products and producers out there. Our third-party audits, testing and new automation systems ensure that we have quality products from reliable suppliers and we have the data to back it up.”
As far as trends in animal food go, Lane and Lisa see the pet food market following the human food market. Pet parents are increasingly more concerned with the quality and safety of ingredients. More and more consumers are demanding non-GMO, organic or all natural foods as well as pet foods that leave out potential allergens such as wheat corn and soy.
Lortscher Animal Nutrition is on a steady path of expansion. The business currently ships complete flours, component blends and ingredients to customers throughout the United States and Canada as well as Mexico and countries along the Asian Pacific Rim.
This vast and growing geographic footprint has been good for business, but presents challenges. “Freight is becoming more and more of a cost impact issue,” Lane explains. “Moving forward, we have to decide the best way to get products to our customers.”
One solution is to build more facilities that will bring products closer to customers. Lortscher Animal Nutrition is currently in the process of constructing a new location in Texas. While the business is already catering to the needs of customer in the southern United States, this new facility will help improve turnaround time and reduce transportation costs. On a 14-acre parcel of land, the business is building a 60,000-square-foot facility with rail for more mixing, storage and distribution.
Lortscher Animal Nutrition boasts leading expertise in the field of animal nutrition. What sets the business apart, more than anything else, is the company’s skilled and dedicated staff. Despite the challenges, Lane and Lisa both love coming to work. The colleagues enjoy working with customers and solving problems as part of a team.
With a broad set of capabilities, resources and partnerships, Lortscher Animal Nutrition Inc. continues to strive for excellence, providing customer-oriented services and quality animal food ingredients on an international scale.