Standard Nutrition Company
The roots of Standard Nutrition Company date back to 1886, when veterinarian F.E. Sanborn first began approaching American family farmers, introducing nutritional supplements for homegrown feedstuffs. This launched The F.E. Sanborn Company, which is now Standard Nutrition Company. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, the livestock nutrition consulting firm focuses on working with producers to enhance their management, techniques and processes.
Standard Nutrition has always been privately owned and focuses on providing low-inclusion supplements for farmers to feed with homegrown feedstuffs or purchased byproducts. In 1983, an investment banking group purchased the company and brought in Bill Dyer to serve as controller. In 1988, the then current management team acquired the company, making those four years the only time Standard Nutrition has not been majority management owned.
A purpose-driven company
While Standard Nutrition has experienced success throughout North America, the company’s business model and philosophy is less about selling a product, and more about enhancing the success of the farms it serves. “Our core values are about doing the right thing and making everything about the farmers,” says Dyer. “That philosophy is instilled in every employee, no matter what sector they work in. It’s a culture of helping others succeed.”
In a cyclical industry such as agriculture, producers and suppliers face numerous challenges throughout the year. Two of the biggest obstacles that Standard Nutrition consistently overcomes are evolving with consolidation and the personnel aspects that accompany it. “We have a number of advanced degree nutritionists working with our customers,” Dyer explains. “It’s tough to find people from farms who understand the business that choose to go into livestock nutrition and production management. We focus on hiring experienced consultants but also hire individuals who are working on their advanced degrees, not originally from the farm, but who are interested in our industry.”
In order to remain current with demands and trends of the industry, Standard Nutrition holds an advocacy board meeting twice a year. The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for individuals from each of its companies to get together and advocate for the needs of the people working in that particular company. “We are always challenging ourselves to find the unmet needs of our people and our customers,” shares Dyer. “Our role is to help our people solve these unmet needs or be willing to make changes in how we approach the market to better serve the farmers.”
For example, in 2015 Standard Nutrition completed a joint venture with Scoular Grain in Jerome, Idaho. Scoular implemented blending techniques for its commodities while Standard Nutrition, in conjunction, added blending for minerals to the operation that distributes directly to the dairies it serves. “It was a great opportunity to be able to offer another method through which the producer could use our services and product that would fit their business well,” recalls Dyer. “It’s not a process that everybody will use but we want our farmers to be able to have a choice.”
In just a year since implementing this strategy, Dyer has found that the program has been effective for dairies both large and small. “It really comes down to where they want to focus their resources,” asserts Dyer. “With this blend center, they are able to reduce the use of on-farm blending so they can allocate equipment and people to other things.”
Dyer has been surrounded by the agriculture industry for a majority of his life, growing up on a beef and swine farm in Iowa. With encouragement from his father, he attended college and earned a degree in accounting. Upon graduating, he worked for an accounting firm with many clients in the agriculture industry. Dyer jumped at the opportunity to work on Standard Nutrition’s account when it presented itself and joined the company several months later.
Putting farmers first
One of Dyer’s primary concerns in 2016 is establishing the next generation of employees. “We need to bring in people who can build relationships with new and existing customers and desire to grow the business for the future,” he says. “It can be tough to find young people who are willing to take the same kind of risk that the current management group did.”
Moving forward, Standard Nutrition will continue to assess the unique needs of its clients for each company. For example, the company is working with the Canadian government in a specialized grain-cleaning venture, while in the U.S., Standard Nutrition is growing its pork business through its swine management company, in an effort to fulfill some of the producers’ unmet needs.
“Swine producers really love to be a part of the grain and livestock side of things,” says Dyer. “With pork production being a majority consolidated, they look for companies like Standard Nutrition to assist them with marketing contracts, employee management and many of the business aspects they prefer not to deal with.”
With the ebb and flow of the markets within the agriculture industry, whether working with dairy, beef, swine, poultry or equine, one thing is constant: Standard Nutrition Company will always be focused on supporting its consulting nutritionists and production specialists with helping producers to be successful.