United Livestock Commodities Inc.
Based in Mayfield, Kentucky, United Livestock Commodities Inc. (ULC) has been providing custom mixed cattle feed to customers throughout the region since 2010.
Founded by childhood friends Nick Smith and Joseph Watson, ULC gave the cattle industry veterans the chance to apply their expertise to the feed side of the business while still maintaining their own herds. As a rancher with more than 15 years’ experience in the industry, ULC has capacity to feed 1,000 fat cattle under roof.
The family-owned and –operated company also includes a trucking division that handles bulk delivery of animal feed, allowing ULC to serve customers within a 250-mile radius of its home base in Mayfield. With more than 40 trucks in its fleet, ULC employs 22 truckers, 15 other employees as well as a handful of owner-operators.
New retail facility strengthens community connection
In early 2016 ULC completed a new, smaller feed mill in Mayfield which will allow the company to better serve some of the area’s smaller producers. Branded as Endurance Feeds, the new feed mill features a small storefront, giving ULC the chance to connect with customers in a more traditional retail environment and help service customer’s needs throughout the winter.
“ULC is more of a wholesale supplier and commercial business, whereas this is more of a hometown retail supplier,” says Joseph Watson, president of ULC. The company trucks fresh ingredients to the new feed mill, where they are mixed on-site in custom blends specifically suited for each customer’s needs.
“We do a lot of custom mixes for smaller ranchers and hobby farmers,” he says.
Providing feed for chicken, goat, sheep and more, the new feed mill will allow the company to serve more types of animals than ever before. “The opportunity just arose and it’s been perfect. We’ve always wanted to get into specialty type animals like horses and goats, and this gave us the chance to do that,” says Watson.
In addition to the new feed mill and retail location, ULC recently unveiled a new grain storage facility in Mayfield. The facility will increase ULC’s grain warehousing capacity, giving the company more flexibility in the future and ensuring a steady supply of the key feed ingredient. “That works for us because we can have our own storage and use our own corn year-round,” he says.
Weathering the hard times
The issue has been compounded by falling cattle prices, requiring companies like ULC to pursue new customers and larger sales all the time. “All of the ag industry is suffering because corn and bean prices have dropped, as well as cattle prices; we’ve actually had a record loss on cattle,” he says.
The renewed commitment to growth is especially important given the increasingly consolidated nature of the cattle market. With larger and larger players moving into the market, feed companies such as ULC have seen a number of their longstanding clients fold in response to increased competition. “It seems like the small guys aren’t doing as much anymore and the big guys just keep getting bigger and bigger,” he says.
Looking toward the future, Watson says he does not have any specific plans to expand the company’s geographical footprint, services or products, though such growth has not always been planned in the past. “I said the same thing two years ago, but we still ended up growing,” he says.
In the end for Watson, the business comes down to offering the products and services that his local customer base has come to count on.
With an experienced team at the helm and a steadily growing slate of services and locations, family-owned and –operated United Livestock Commodities Inc. will continues to serve customers throughout Kentucky with top-quality feed.