Jeff Nielsen and Jeff Pascoe established Nutri-Source Inc. (NSI) in 2005 with the goal of building a strong feed supply chain for regional dairy farmers. “We were both working for a larger feed manufacturer and decided to consult on our own,” says Nielsen, who serves as the company’s president and a nutritional consultant. “We felt like we could provide something different as the offerings in the feed industry were a bit stagnant. We built a small feed mill, making feed at night and selling it during the day. After some success, we decided to grow and the rest is history.”
Today, NSI has two feed mills in Ponoka and Granum, Alberta, and a main office in Strathmore, Alberta. The business employs 30 people who specialize in manufacturing and selling high-nutrition feed formulated specifically for dairy cows. “We try to bring a comprehensive view and operate on the consulting side of the feed business as well,” Jeff notes. “We are focused on health and providing any input we can for our customers that will help keep their cows healthy.”
A growing specialty product line
Another factor that sets NSI apart from other feed manufacturers is the diet-specific formulas the business creates, catering directly to the nutritional needs of cows. “We do not use any animal proteins in the feed,” Nielsen notes. “Our ingredients are specific to the dairy industry and our competitors don’t necessarily do that.” The team draws on a strong supply chain, sourcing ingredients from a range of sources with a focus on purchasing from local farmers.
While local dairy farmers are consistently satisfied with the company’s feed products, Nielsen and his team believe there is always room for improvement. “We try to come out with new products all the time and we develop a lot of in-house formulas that are unique to our business. We also handle products from other companies that aren’t in the area in order to meet the diverse demand we see in the market. Everything we do is to benefit our customers.
“If our customers are looking for it, we make it,” he continues. “Our nutritional consultants identify the needs of our customer base and then we develop things that are practical for them. WE want to provide products that work with their operations that are cost effective and provide value day to day.” While a majority of the company’s sales are through in-house brands, the business has built alliances with other manufacturers in order to fill in the production gaps. For example, NSI does not have the capabilities to make pellet feed or textured feed. Working through long-term alliances, the crew is able to maintain a consistent supply of these types of products.
Nielsen and his team are constantly facing competition in the market. So far, the crew has done well with standing apart from other business through vertical integration. The company is on a course of steady growth, although that has brought its own set of challenges. “We have been focusing on hiring the right people and restructuring our business to accommodate expansion,” he says. “We are also handling government regulation changes.”
The business has been through a considerable amount of expansion at both facilities, including upgrades at the feed mill and building warehouses in Northern and Southern Alberta. The crew has been adding trucks on the road in both regions to bring product directly to farms through an integrated delivery system. The company also launched a retail location in Coaldale, Alberta, to go along with expansion in the retail market.
“We are really promoting our retail side,” Nielsen notes. “We are trying to grow through Western Canada with a strong retail distribution network, as well as with the products we handle for other companies. This expansion is very exciting because it allows us to go into other provinces and maybe eventually other countries. The feed business side is limited, because of trucking and high weight, but the retail side is not restricted by that factor.”
NSI has seen a lot of growth in dairy products from the consumer end. People are buying more dairy items, such as high-protein sports drinks, yogurt, cheese and milk. This boom in consumer interest is good for the business. “There are a lot of cows and a healthy industry to feed,” Nielsen explains. Our outlook has been really positive this year. Feed prices are lower than they have been the last few years, but there is a strong demand for milk and dairy products.”
A bright future
With significant growth potential over the coming years, Nielsen maintains that his team’s number-one priority is total customer focus. “We truly want to earn their business,” he elaborates. “If we can’t prove that to do business with us is to do better, then it’s not working. Any product we sell isn’t just to gain sales, but instead we want to help our customers do better by using our line. We are very thankful for our customers and the support they have given us. Our customers are great to work with and we love what we are doing.”
Nielsen is also thankful for his team and says the business could not be successful without. “We have a committed group of people who are passionate about what they do.” In return, he strives to cultivate an environment internally where people are happy and have flexibility and success. “We want everyone to be passionate as an employee no matter what sector they work in,” he continues. “Our goal is to have enough internal focus and structure so that people can do well and we have happy customers. But we do not want to do that so much that we become bureaucratic and have too much red tape. It is important for us to find the balance.”
In the next three years, Nielsen plans to double the size of the company. With expansion already underway, he continues to rely on a strong support team to push the company toward this goal. With a solid product line, lasting relationships with customers and strategic partners and a growing market footprint, Nutri-Source Inc. is on course for continued growth.