Southern Seed & Feed LLC
Located in Macon, Mississippi, Southern Seed & Feed LLC (SSF) has grown from a one-man band to a sizable feed manufacturer and distributor that supports area farmers and ranchers. With stores in Mississippi and Alabama, SSF has expanded over the last 32 years to include a range of products, including feed for equines, cattle, sheep and goats, poultry, swine and wildlife, as well as wildlife seeds, pasture seeds and products for wild birds and household pets.
The business was established in 1983 by Roger Koehn, president of SSF. The company began as a processor of agricultural seed using a portable seed cleaner to prepare seed for planting. “I have a farming background,” shares Koehn. “I was raised in the agricultural business. I worked for a seed producer, which helped me get started in this industry.”
In September 1983, Koehn decided to launch his own business. He saw a need in the feed industry for a company to supply retail outlets with high-quality grain products. “We started calling on local feed stores to sell them clean, bagged corn,” he recounts. “This was well-accepted, so we also began making feed. We felt there was a good market for textured feed because many larger companies were not involved in making it.”
SSF now offers a broad selection of specialty feed products to clients within a 200-mile radius of its headquarters in Macon. Koehn remains true to his farming roots and SSF works with local farmers as much as possible to source materials for production.
Increased capacity and efficiency
“We’ve grown tremendously in the last three years,” says Koehn. “We were in need of more space. We’ve added a new warehouse, which increases our bagged product storage area by 24,000 feet. We’ve added a new bulk receiving line with another 200,000 bushels worth of storage. We can now unload a truck within 10 minutes, whereas before it took about 30 minutes.”
As SSF continues to expand, Koehn says reinvesting in facilities and upgrades has helped to keep production moving efficiently. “We’re really ramping up in terms of technology to increase productivity,” he elaborates. “We’ve added robotic stacking to our feed production lines. It’s been a bit of a learning curve adapting to it and training our employees. We actually installed the stacking line in May and it took a couple of months to learn how to use it to its fullest capacity, but in the long run this is going to really increase our productivity.”
In addition to running faster and smarter, SSF is known for its ability to create custom solutions for its feed and seed clients. “Since we are service-oriented, we readily do custom-blended products for our customers,” says Koehn. “Our one weakness is that we do not have a pellet mill, so we have our pellet feed custom-made to our specifications. We do our best to offer economical solutions to our customers. Most of our grains are locally grown. We want a high-quality oat; therefore, we use Canadian oats. Another strong point that we have is that all of our feed grains are cleaned so we can deliver the highest quality grain in the industry.”
New product lines
Koehn says the local cattle industry has seen declines in recent years and SSF has had to come up with new products and channels to make up for it. “Despite fewer cattle ranchers, our profits are very good right now in the animal industry, especially because there are high cattle prices,” he notes.
But when one market cuts back, SSF has the diversity to pick up the slack. One area that’s making great strides is SSF’s wildlife business. “We continue to do a lot with the wildlife industry — it’s probably our biggest growing sector,” says Koehn. “We just went to market with a new feed called Trophy Buck with Peanuts. We introduced the product in August and we have already received many orders for it.”
Koehn says SSF is doing more in terms of custom blending on the wildlife side of the business. “We have gotten more involved in feed production for wildlife,” he adds. “We service everything from the high-fenced breeder to your common weekend hunter — and it’s all through wholesale distribution.”
SSF’s pet food sales continue to be strong. “There are more and more people wanting a companion in their busy lives, especially older folks, so this side of the business is still holding steady,” adds Koehn.
Although sales and profitability are obvious indicators of ongoing success, Koehn says he also views success in terms of customer service and satisfaction. “Customer satisfaction is very important in what we do,” he says. “If you maintain customer service, your profits will continue to rise.”
Putting customers first comes a little easier for SSF as a small to midsized family-run business. “My son, Seth Koehn, has stepped up to be a very active part of the business and has taken on more and more responsibility,” adds Koehn.
With family ownership and newly added storage capacity and production technology on its side, Southern Seed & Feed LLC continues to serve agricultural producers and pet owners throughout Mississippi and Alabama.