Woodall Grain Company & Woodall Risk Management
In Decherd, Tennessee, Woodall Grain Company (WGC) and Woodall Risk Management (WRM) unify the benefits of grain storage and handling, with expert marketing and brokerage strategies. The side-by-side companies support producers across the Southeast in terms of crop merchandising, brokerage, storage, transportation, marketing and education.
Formed in 2005 as the product of five generations of family farming, WGC specializes in merchandising corn, wheat and soybeans. The company has made a mission out of providing the highest level of individualized grain marketing services for the greatest level of profitability.
“There’s a long history of farming in my family dating more than five generations,” says Jared Woodall, president and CEO of WGC. “When I came back to Decherd from college, I realized there was a definite need for grain elevator handling facilities. The infrastructure that was in place was either not up to capacity or outdated and unable to handle yields.”
Now WGC has four locations, including a newly constructed facility in Manchester, Tennessee. “This facility came online in 2014 and it has increased our bushel capacity up to more than 3.5 million bushels,” notes Woodall. “WGC has steadily grown from a backyard business to a serious player.”
“Our customer base has more than tripled in the past two years and the company has acquired two new facilities in Elora and Fayetteville, Tennessee,” adds Woodall. “We are licensed throughout the Southeast and we currently have 57 employees.”
Woodall says it’s not increased capacity or extended territory that is really driving business for WGC. He says the company’s down-home service has drawn more and more producers to WGC. “We try to switch the focus from price-based to profit-based, using our strategies and expert futures market insight,” he explains. “We’re a growing company, but were very personal. We have the staff and capabilities to be one-on-one with customers, whether that’s a face-to-face meeting, conference calls or video chat; farmers really appreciate this and it’s the biggest thing building our business.”
Woodall says this level of service comes from being in the same shoes and deeply understanding producers’ needs. “We’re very focused on speed, we understand their needs and we know they don’t want to wait in line,” he says. “We’re very proactive in getting opportunities in front of farmers and we try to make marketing as easy and as painless as possible.”
Adding more value with risk-management services
As WGC continues to increase capacity, including long-term strategic plans for a river-rail transit facility and adding onto its transportation fleet of 30 trucks, Woodall says the next push is to grow the risk management facet of the business. “Our primary goal for the future is to grow the risk management side by focusing on education and marketing for our farmers,” he says. “We started this service alongside the grain elevator to add more value and offer a one-stop shop for our customers.”
WRM provides growers needed grain marketing advice depending on futures markets and options. “We work to educate our farmers on profits, not prices,” explains Lou Pfister, director of operations for WGC.
With this service in high demand in the Southeast, WRM has plenty of room to grow. “WRM will be officially 2 years old in November 2015,” says Pfister. “As a fully hedged operation, we can increase producer profitability. “Myself, Jared and two additional team members are all Series 3 licensed commodity brokers. Since we were already marketing and merchandising grain, adding the risk management made sense for us. It’s something that differentiates us and takes our service to the next level. A lot of companies do either or, but typically not both combined.”
Expanding yet keeping service close and personal
Now the next hurdle for WGC and WRM is finding the right personnel to take it to the next level. “We’re very selective of our staff,” says Woodall. “We’ve had very low turnover through our history, but it’s because we take great care in who we select and we try to create an ideal environment for our employees.”
“We need to ensure we have the staff to keep pace with added services and capacity,” adds Woodall. “We’re becoming a large company, but our goal is to never lose that personal feel. I’m a trader at heart with a farming background, so these relationship and personal connections to farmers are very important to me.”
WGC’s business partners, including Citizens Community Bank, have watched the company flourish by maintaining these close connections. “It is rewarding for a banker to see the startup of a business and grow into the success we have seen in Woodall Grain,” says Dennis Walker, president and CEO of Citizens Community Bank. “This business is well managed, growing and strongly capitalized. We are proud to have been a part of helping them get started and continue to be their bank.”
With the benefits of both in-house grain handling, storage and marketing, coupled with expert risk management and futures market navigation, Woodall Grain Company and Woodall Risk Management are helping producers become more efficient and profitable.