Based in Covington and West Milton, Ohio, Rudy Inc. (Rudy) is a five-generation strong, family-owned grain marketing and merchandising company; a trusted Ohio name for more than 110 years. “We have a very rich history at Rudy,” shares Brian Rudy, executive vice president of Rudy. “I represent our family’s fifth generation. My great-great-grandfather, Samuel James Rudy, started the company in 1904 and we’re now celebrating 110 years in business. It’s a rarity and it’s something we take a lot of pride in.”
Steeped in family tradition
For more than a century, the Rudy family has carried on a tradition of service in support of local producers. “We take great pride in our reputation and what we do here,” ensures Brian. “Through the years, we’ve been able to not only provide for our own family, but also for our employees, as well as provide a benefit to our communities.”
As a highly localized organization, serving approximately a 30-mile radius of Covington and West Milton, Brian says he’s seen the tradition passed down the line not just in Rudy but also in business relationships as well. “We’re generational, but so are the producers and the operations we work with,” he explains. “We frequently work with the grandsons and great-grandsons of the people my grandfather and great-grandfather worked with –this business is steeped in tradition.”
Brian’s father, Bob Rudy, as well as his uncle, Bill Rudy, serve as fourth-generation company president and vice president, respectively, while wearing multiple hats. “When running a small family business, you’ve got to be a lot of different things on any given day,” Brian says.
Between Rudy’s two locations and multiple grain elevators, Bob, Brian and Bill certainly keep busy. “Our main office is in Covington and we have an additional full-service facility in West Milton, Ohio, which we’re working on expanding,” he reveals. “We currently service Miami County as well as northern Montgomery County and surrounding towns both north and south.”
Rudy employs a 12-person staff that assists in buying, selling and trading commodities from corn to soybeans and wheat. “We help area farmers market and merchandise their grain and provide a marketplace for them to do so, whether that’s directly with us or through a larger terminal, such as Cargill or area ethanol plants,” explains Brian. “We offer consultations regarding enhanced marketing alternatives and merchandising of their products.”
Stepping up to meet demand
As producers turn over crops faster than before with improved technology and equipment, Brian explains that the pressure is on for Rudy to rise to meet the demand. “It’s an oddity that in our industry, some of our greatest customers can also represent some of our greatest competitors in the sense that once they get big enough, they essentially operate their own grain elevators,” he details. “By having their own storage and semis, they possess the means and abilities to take their business to other markets. For us, it becomes a matter of differentiating ourselves and offering more personalized customer service and value so they want to continue working together along with us.”
In fact, the Rudys recently signed-off on a project to improve the West Milton elevator and storage facility. “We’re essentially planning to more than double our intake speed and capacity, with a longer-term goal of growing our storage capacity by 30 to 35 percent in the next six to eight years,” Brian reveals. “This will eventually allow us to pick up more business in the West Milton and surrounding areas.”
However, growth hasn’t come easy in recent years as Rudy has gone head-to-head with an array of obstacles related to a significant inflation in commodity prices. Brian explains that over the past three to five years, commodity prices have become more and more volatile, as large hedge funds have moved in and out of the market in an attempt to generate returns.
“Coming out of the stock market crash of 2008, the commodities market became flooded with large hedge funds turning the Chicago Board of Trade [CBOT] Futures market from a price discovery mechanism to more of a high-stakes casino with traditional and seasonal fundamentals taking a backseat,” Brian says.
For a small grain business such as Rudy, survival means relying on solid relationships with customers, brokers, larger terminals and especially with the banks. With increasing borrowing demands, Brian adds that government regulations have filtered down through the banks putting pressure on small businesses in general, and forcing banks to recalibrate how traditional lending practices are viewed.
While the industry has undergone considerable changes financially, Brian assures what Rudy does is still tried and true. “This is a mature, grassroots-type industry, very different from the stereotypical corporate environment,” he says. “There’s an element of trust and customer service in this business that you won’t find anywhere else and that’s why we try to emphasize our family-owned and -operated culture. The intangible elements of history, tradition and integrity are what we believe to be the most important and most appreciated attributes of our company.” Bob, Brian and all of the employees at Rudy Inc. continue to honor this time-tested tradition today.