By Helping Kids in the Show Ring, We are Helping Our Future

The makers of Allied Feeds and the Ful-O-Pep brand are proud of their product and their customers’ successes with feeding their product. Just like any feed store, they work to build strong relationships and provide products people want for their livestock.

What’s unique about Allied Feeds is that nearly one-third of its customer base is livestock show families. The Allied Feeds brand, Ful-O-Pep Feeds, is specially formulated for show cattle, swine, sheep, goats, poultry and rabbits. Their product is sold across Texas and into Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and North Carolina thanks to their nearly 150 dealers who recognize and sell BioZyme® products.

Allied Feeds is owned by the Greg Gossett family, who also owns the Ful-O-Pep trademark. The company has been in business since the early 1900s, first as a Quaker Oats brand. Then it changed ownership to Wayne Feeds and eventually Continental Grain. Greg Gossett’s father, Dr. J.W. Gossett, acquired Continental Grain and continued the Ful-O-Pep Feeds reputation for being a quality full-line commercial feed manufacturer. Today, Allied Feeds manages two storefronts, one in San Antonio and one in Cuero, Texas.

It was just after the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo in 2012 that Dennis Delaney and Jay Willingham came to see Dennis Jemelka about selling BioZyme products. At the same time, the Cuero store was receiving calls for Sure Champ®. Since Ful-O-Pep Feeds already produced its own full-line of livestock show feed, Jemelka says BioZyme fit well with the store’s commitment to quality and fit the company price niche as well.

Allied Feeds and the BioZyme line of products offer something for everyone. Ranchers will use quality feed and supplements because they increase performance and maximize efficiency. Livestock show customers are willing to invest in top-of-the-line products because they want the best for their animals, and their goal is to win.

One of the Ful-O-Pep Feeds sales managers had children who showed steers. Naturally, they began using the products, which gave Jemelka a first-hand testimonial on how Sure Champ products work. He says the prebiotics and organic minerals all add up to be worth the investment. The selling point came when Jemelka could tell families they didn’t have to add any other top-dress supplements to their show feeds if they used Sure Champ from the beginning.

“Show feeds are a big part of our business,” he says. “As our salesman fed his own steers Sure Champ he paid special attention to the animal’s manure to see what was being digested. He came to trust what BioZyme says is true, you do get that added digestion with these products.”

Better digestion equates to more energy. As the calves mature, feeding Sure Champ will keep the animals in shape and they won’t go off feed. Jemelka reassures customers it has a high trace mineral content, which adds to the value of the product.

Allied Feeds recognizes the value of its show customers and offers several incentives to reward them for their business. One program is called Jackets for Champions. The store offers a jacket to any customer who earns a Grand or Reserve Grand Champion title at the local or state level.

The store also participates in the county level premium auctions. Jemelka says there are so many winners that use Ful-O-Pep Feeds products that it’s hard to reward them all, but Ful-O-Pep Feeds does give add-on premiums to as many as possible.

“Our show feeds are important to us but we look at it as a niche market,” Jemelka says. “Not everyone can buy higher priced feeds. You have to have a good product and if you produce winners then you’ll keep those people as a customer forever.”

There are occasions where the store is asked to visit with 4-H groups and FFA chapters to show livestock exhibitors what and how to feed. Jemelka says Allied Feeds wants to teach them about new products with the goal that a younger generation will learn the benefits of the Ful-O-Pep Feeds line.

Ful-O-Pep Feeds encourages its dealers to attend livestock shows and be among the people who need its products. He says the Rio Grande Valley is a specific area for livestock show families and the company’s San Antonio store makes textured feed and grains, which caters to more of the Valley’s show market. At one time, Jemelka says the store was making 80 tons of pelleted show goat feed in one week.

“We definitely have a show market and we try to give them, and all of our customers, the latest and greatest feed technology so they can succeed,” he says. “We think that by helping kids in the show ring, we are helping our future.”

An Inside Look at how the Value Pencils Out

Pricing is an issue of which 99-percent of all dealers struggle. However, Doug Underwood and his Area Sales Manager, Ben Neale, contest this issue with testimonials to demonstrate the benefits of including BioZyme® products in their customers’ nutritional programs in order to prove its value and thus price accordingly. 

Underwood has been selling BioZyme products for more than five years and became a dealer when he needed access to the supplement and mineral lines for his own cows. After using it for 19 years on his Polled Hereford seedstock, Underwood was a convinced of its worth. When his local dealer retired, he decided to establish his own BioZyme dealership at his farm near Campbellsville, Kentucky.

Many of Underwood’s customers were familiar with the products, but to continue to educate them as well as new prospective customers, Underwood and Neale have hosted field days to talk about how and why BioZyme products work. Underwood says when he hears the question of expense, he focuses his selling points around Amaferm®.

“That is what sets this brand apart from other mineral products,” Underwood says. “It’s one particular ingredient that makes a big difference in cattle. They have a much better feed intake and appearance. That’s the positive result you get from Amaferm.”

Neale’s territory covers Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi, so he’s on the road working with dealers like Underwood. In addition to field days and producer meetings, he says BioZyme has many marketing tools available to help dealers explain to producers how investing in premium products will increase their bottom lines. When Neale visits with dealers, he encourages them to think about inventory control. “Our price list shows buying 22 tons at a time is the best way to achieve greater margins, but if you have to sit on inventory for 6-10 months that may cost more money if operating on a line of credit,” Neale says. “So, we try to focus on flipping inventory faster. You can still turn a profit if you buy 5-10 tons at a time, and the product remains fresh for the customer.”

Underwood says the time he puts into selling a value-added product like those BioZyme provides is worth it. Even when cattle prices are down and it seems like input costs and supplements, like BioZyme, don’t make sense, he encourages fellow producers to try the product. Their return on investment will become apparent when they wean heavier calves or when cows settle on the first cycle. And he says, he would never lower his prices to match a competitor. “When they start comparing ingredients and prices from the local feed store, I have to show them what Amaferm does for them instead,” he says. “The math will speak for itself. If I can get a cow bred on the first cycle instead of the second I’ve saved 21 days at maybe $1.50 per pound and gain another two pounds per day for those 21 days for a total of 42 lbs. at weaning for an additional $63 per calf. The benefits BioZyme products provide for the additional cost pencils out in the long run.”

Neale says dealers should remember when faced with price comparisons from other mineral products they should focus on the ingredients BioZyme provides and how the ingredients found on the tag are not found in any other product. That’s what the extra pricing goes toward – better ingredients plus Amaferm in the mineral bag.

Neale says he talks to customers about Amaferm and how this prebiotic increases gut health, increases feed efficiency and helps animals recover faster from times of stress. The added benefit, he says, of two products in one bag is also a good selling point during price discussions.

Another benefit of the Neale-Underwood team is that ASM’s like Neale can help dealers grow their business outside of an established customer base. Neale is working with Underwood to recruit sub-dealers and build a network from customers who are two or more hours away. 

“I am working with Doug to build upon his strong local relationships,” he says. “It’s new for both of us but without the availability of stores in his area he has to network with breeders and others who can help grow his business.”

“Real business is successful when someone sees a return on investment not on price,” Neale says. “We want customers who use these products to understand and believe that as well. When you talk with someone who’s going on a diet, are they going out to buy and consume healthy food or junk? It’s the same with cattle. If you want higher returns then you have to be conscious of what you’re feeding them. You may have to pay more to be efficient.”

“Just let the product speak for itself,” Underwood says.

Innovative Communication Opens Doors to New Markets

Finding updates about products and activities at Earlybird Feed & Fertilizer is not hard to do. After all, the store has a team member dedicated to social media and web marketing.

Located in Goodfield, Illinois, Earlybird began as a fertilizer company in 1965. Today the 49-member staff also sells feed for commercial and show-quality cattle, hogs, goats and sheep as well as feed for turkeys and chickens.

Mike Orns, Earlybird’s Inside Sales and Feed Division Manager, is like the store’s traffic cop. He keeps everyone running in the right direction, he says, and it’s his job to be innovative and consider the big picture. From production to sales and regulations to promotions, Orns oversees the store and keeps the gears turning.

The store has grown so much that it’s owners challenged Orns to hire a new staff person, someone to focus on the use of marketing and technology to grow the store’s customer base.

“There are so many people now involved with social media, especially within the show audience,” he says. “We deal a lot with customers who show livestock and we’ve realized that’s how kids and others communicate. This opened the door wide for us to better communicate and reach that market.”

Specifically, Earlybird needed to publicize its connection to the success of many show ring champions. Posting photos, recognizing customers and marketing show products that helped get those champions to the winner’s circle needed to be done.

Scott Hardman was hired as the marketing manager for Earlybird a year ago. He had previous experience with a national youth organization, which included social media and website marketing. And, Hardman was also familiar with the livestock show ring.

Hardman says Orns was “very serious” about making Earlybird’s website state-of-the-art, and using Facebook and Twitter to enhance the store’s social media presence. Hardman has made it his mission to promote Earlybird’s successes with feed and product sales to livestock show families. And though the store has seen great results by emphasizing its show ring presence online, Hardman says there is much, much more to do.

“In the show industry, we are well aware we needed gratification of successes,” he says. “We needed to be much better at keeping up with our winners because we had a large number of them. The store needs to use Facebook as a major marketing tool rather than just a source of self-promotion for us. We want to help promote our winners.”

Earlybird also needed to expand promoting it’s successful customers from other species and added sheep, goats and poultry to it’s media plan. The store is located one mile from a major interstate in Illinois, and Hardman thought it should take advantage of that; for example promoting Earlybird as an easy stop on a person’s way home.

“We needed a bigger footprint if we were going to be found,” he says.

Both Orns and Hardman take advantage of the marketing tools provided by BioZyme®, Inc. Orns says the company is very good at direct mailing, and BioZyme always has a huge presence at livestock shows, which makes it an easy-to-recognize product when customers come in.

“It also helps that BioZyme products actually work,” he says. “When we can push examples of how the product has helped another person’s livestock project and can quantify their results, that helps us tremendously.”

Hardman says the store’s Area Sales Manager, Shandy Bertolino, does a great job at providing information on what BioZyme products are available. She hosts a meeting each summer and shares tools and marketing pieces that keep Earlybird’s staff updated on what BioZyme can offer. This kind of innovation helps dealers like Earlybird keep on top of new products, terminology and how to approach a customer about including BioZyme in their feeding routine.

Orns is quick to realize social media is not the only way to advertise and promote the fertilizer and feed store, but it is the most innovative way to do so. Social media and show ring families go hand-in-hand. Connecting with youth in agriculture is most efficiently accomplished through Facebook and Twitter so by enhancing Earlybird’s online presence Orns knows he is reaching more livestock kids who want to be as successful as those posted online.

To be sure his field staff is able to connect, post and promote products, Orns says he puts the best computers, tablets and smartphones in their hands for work, especially with the fertilizer side of the company. Earlybird’s owners are also progressive and have viewed Hardman’s social media work as a stride in the right direction.

Hardman tells how he used to come in to Earlybird as a customer purchasing livestock feed and supplements. Until he took the job as the store’s marketing manager, Hardman was not aware the store carried grass seed, emphasizing the point that innovation in social media is not just self-promotion. This kind of marketing can build a loyal customer base that will talk about using Earlybird’s wide variety of products and encourage others to do the same.

“As we continue to grow the number of Facebook followers, we can use that to better market our monthly specials and expand on things that are big and significant,” Hardman says. “The other big thing we need to focus on is to constantly grow the website and use it as tool to help us be more productive and process oriented. We will use social media as a marketing tool and invent ways to showcase the type of company we are.”

To check out Earlybird Feed & Fertilizer online, go to
www.earlybirdgoodfield.com.

Mike Orns – Inside Sales and Feed Division Manger
Earlybird Feed & Fertilizer Goodfield, Illinois

Current mobile device: Droid Turbo 2

Current Computer: Lenovo notepad

First, tell us what you feel separates your business from other feed supply operations? Service.

What websites, apps or tools can’t you live without? Email and texting

Why? Those are the best ways to communicate with me other than the phone.
How do you keep your to-do list? On a notepad with a good old pen and paper.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without? 
A calculator.

What’s your secret? Take care of the little details.

What are you currently reading? Several feed magazines, local and national news. I read some parts of the newspaper but only online.

How do you recharge? I enjoy time with my family.

What is your favorite and least-favorite task at work? My least favorite thing to do is manage conflict. My favorite task is working with customers.

What is one area you’d like to improve in regarding business? Organization.

Describe your ideal customer. One who pays on time and orders well in advance. I like those who are progressive and listen to leaders in the industry.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Listen to people.

Why do you love this business? Because we’re family-owned. We are in a great community, and the owners are family focused. Family always comes first.

Be The “Good” In Their Morning, Afternoon Or Evening

Learn how LEO SANFTNER of Cottor FARMS serves customers passionately

Leo Sanftner
Cottor Farms, Osceola, WI
Sales Agent

One word that best describes how you work: Positive

First, tell us what you feel separates your business from other feed supply operations? There are not a lot of feed mills in our area; they’ve become a thing of the past. Regardless if our door closes at 5 p.m., I stay until the job is done, all deliveries are made and all the customers have the product they need.


How do you keep your to-do list?
I run a log each day by way of a spiral notebook at my desk. At the end of each day I update it for the next business day.


What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
When the telephone rings in the morning, I say “Good morning, this is Leo.” When it rings in the afternoon I say, “Good afternoon, this is Leo.” When it’s evening I say, “Good evening, this is Leo.” I try to be the good morning, good afternoon and good evening for them.


What’s your secret?
I am passionate about people and livestock. I’ve gone through a lot of stuff through the years, — feeling low, health issues, stress at
work, etc., so I try to help other people out. I forget about my problems and take on their problems. It makes me feel good.


What are you currently reading?
The Biozyme® VISION Dealer Newsletter on my phone or computer. I love to read that and learn what’s going on in
other places. I also read the Angus Journal and Hereford World.


How do you recharge?
By going home and getting six to seven hours of sleep a night. I love my Mountain Dew while I’m driving. That recharges me.


What is your favorite and least-favorite task at work?
My least favorite task is sitting at my desk. I like to stay busy so my favorite is when I’m manufacturing feed, helping customers, working out new diets and checking on
old diets.


What is one area you’d like to improve in regarding business? 
Advertising. I’m currently working on that. We are putting up a nice sign on the highway that will change daily or weekly to display different specials we are running. Next, I’ll start putting ads in newspapers. I feel more people need to know Cottor Farms is here to help.


Describe your ideal customer.
All of them.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? My ag instructor said to me years ago, “Your English teacher will say, ‘Leo can sell ice cubes to Eskimos.’ But I say, “No, Leo would sell them a wood stove.” I wouldn’t sell a customer something they don’t need.


Why do you love this business?
I’ve been in the cattle business all my life. It’s my passion. I milked cows, and the day came when I didn’t milk anymore. Then I wanted to expand my beef operation. I have and I can help others with their operations. So my dream has come true.

Ask Questions. Listen & Learn.

On an average day, Leo Sanftner will drive to his job at Cottor Farms in northern Wisconsin drinking a Mountain Dew and catching up on phone calls. Once in the office, he’ll oversee the mill’s manufacturing process and prescribe customized diets for his customers’ livestock operations. The rations Sanftner mixes are for species including cattle, horses, goats, sheep, hogs, rabbits and chickens.

In afternoons and evenings he’ll make product deliveries. Some customers are 30-40 miles away, but through his personal show ring connections, Sanftner also delivers orders up to 200 miles away from the mill’s home base in Osceola, Wisconsin.

His passion for helping breeders do well is second to none. Every day, Sanftner says he listens to his customers to learn about their unique situations. He asks them to share specifics so he can help find the right information and formulate a ration. Sanftner says he wants customers to trust him to treat their animals like his own and realize they can call on him whenever the need arises; daytime, nights or weekends.

His days are long and his to-do list is lengthy, but he doesn’t mind one bit. He says he’s living his dream of helping breeders improve the health of their operations through his position at Cottor Farms.

Cottor Farms is a family-owned business, owned by brothers, Rick and Dan Cottor, that raises its own crops to put through the milling process. Sanftner has known the Cottor family for two decades and was brought on as a sales agent six years ago, thanks to his show ring and livestock connections. He credits his success in both his work and in the show ring to BioZyme® products.

Cottor Farms also supplies and grinds 90-percent of the feed for a nearby mill, and Sanftner says he makes sure to include Amaferm® in all of the mixes.

Prior to joining Cottor Farms, Sanftner was familiar with the Sure Champ® brand as he experienced the impact of this supplement when he purchased cattle from Star Lake Herefords in Skiatook, Oklahoma, years ago. He knew the product worked on cattle and kept it as a part of his own feeding program.

“People have high quality animals, but they may not bloom and take off,” he says. “BioZyme products are formulated in the diet for them. For example, Digest More® will take calves that have been really slow to develop and give them what they need to take off. If they have a good start it’s unbelievable how they eat at the bunk. I’m amazed when I see them a few months later.”

Sanftner can share numerous success stories of his customers using Digest More and Vita Charge®, specifically. One customer who raises chickens for ethnic groups wants his hens to have all black shiny feathers. Sanftner recommended adding Amaferm to their diet. Not only do the chickens now have the desired physical traits, but their eggs are harder with stronger yolks.

He also says the farm has not had problems with chickens that stop laying nor any molt season issues in the past year.

When a new customer discusses an issue with Sanftner, one of the first products he recommends is Vita Charge gel. He says he’ll give them a tube to try, and it will always trigger more business.

“We have some small farmers that the minute their pigs and calves are born they give them Vita Charge even before colostrum,” he says. “I’m overwhelmed with the success of the product and how it works for everything I put it in.”

Another testimonial Sanftner shares about the effects of Vita Charge is from a family with show hogs that last year developed a staph infection. Among other treatments, he encouraged the use of Amaferm through the products Digest More and Vita Charge. Sanftner believes these products saved one out of their four show pigs.

Sanftner says the products are not a hard sell because once the breeder has experienced Amaferm in their diet, they see improvement in overall herd health. His customers’ bragging points include enhanced immune systems and minimal issues with sickness.

“They feel like their animals are getting the best quality,” he says. “The first thing customers might ask is ‘How much more will it cost me,’ but we add it into the whole diet and it all comes out as price at the end.”

On a personal note, Sanftner and his son T.J., raise Hereford and Red Angus cattle. They are active in the show ring and proudly pass their love for showing to Sanftner’s granddaughter, Racthel. As the fourth generation of Sanftners to show cattle, Racthel, has seen show ring success that Sanftner credits to Sure Champ and Digest More. She showed the Reserve Grand Cow-calf Pair at the Minnesota State Fair last year, and his son exhibited the Reserve Grand Get-of-Sire.

Sanftner’s passion for livestock, people and BioZyme is a package deal. By visiting with various breeders, he can learn how the animals are doing on the products and tailor to their needs. “I treat all animals as if they’re a champion,” he says. “Like they’re my own family and not just a number on the wall. It’s just how I do business. I hope to give them a good protocol with the right products then step back and let it work.”

How They Work: CJ Feed & Supply

Charlene Rein-Murphy 
CJ Feed & Supply, Paola, Kansas
Owner, operator, jack of all trades

One word that best describes how you work: Constantly

Current mobile device: Samsung Android

Current computer: Dell screen, HP hard drive, Dell laptop

First, tell us what you feel separates your business from other feed supply operations?
The relationship we build with our customers.

What websites, apps or tools can’t you live without?
A calculator because I’m always running numbers.

How do you keep your to-do list? Every morning I put major tasks on post-it notes. But it changes instantly and constantly.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why? My dog, Summer.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? I don’t worry about things I can’t control when it comes to dealing with everyday stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

What’s your secret? I am good at being level-headed and not worrying about the B.S.

What are you currently reading? A John Grisham book.

How do you recharge? I go to my horse barn late at night.

What is your favorite and least-favorite task at work? Being on the floor and dealing with customers is my favorite.
My least favorite is collections.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? When someone tells me I can’t do it or tells me I will fail then I go for it. That’s my own personal advice.

Why do you love this business? I love animals, I love people. I love the challenge. A lot of it has to do with people that I grew up with and showed with, they are the friendships and relationships that I still have.

How A Simple Question Can Improve the Customer Experience

When a person enters a store they usually have a budget in mind. For a business owner the amount the customer is willing to spend is very important to his or her sales pitch.

At CJ Feed & Supply, Charlene Rein knows how to profile a prospective customer.

She developed a question years ago that lets her analyze just how much people are willing to spend on their animals.

“When they walk in the door I introduce myself then ask, ‘Do you like your animal, love your animal or is it a yard ornament,’she says. “This question applies if they own horses, cattle or a cat.”

Rein says the answer to this question tells her how committed customers are to their animals and what price point she should pitch. She says if they love their animal people are going to buy the best product for it and are committed to keeping that animal around for a long time. If they like their animal then she offers a middle-of-the road product. Answering “like” tells Rein the owner wants his or her animal well fed, but is also price conscious. And if the customer replies, “Yep, I own,” one this means they consider it a yard ornament. Rein believes the customer likes taking care of its animal but won’t go for the all the bells and whistles. She’ll show this potential customer the lower end of products.

CJ Feed & Supply is located in Paola, Kansas. Rein owns and manages the store, as well as her own herd of horses and cattle. As a dealer for BioZyme® she orders products she has used and can attest to, along with Sure Champ® products, which she sells in her store.

First impressions are everything, Rein says. When she asks the customer her intro question she is working to be more efficient. Understanding right away what they have and what they are willing to pay for means meeting their needs more quickly.

In the case of a customer who has a small budget, Rein says she tries to help them understand that they get what they pay for. If they are price conscious and want cheap feed, she is also prepared when they come back to the store six months later stating their animal looks rough.

“I tell them if you want your animal to look better here’s what you need to do,” she says. “I want people to understand they need to look at the label and see this is the nutrition in bag A versus in bag B. If it’s something they are keeping around for a couple of weeks and are just maintaining it, that’s fine. But if you’re going to show your animal, feed it show feed. And still for the child’s sake, please do the best for the animal and at least feed a show supplement like Sure Champ.”

Besides asking the profile question Rein says also keeps track of every customer. Each person is input into a computer system so her employees know their name, animals and previous purchases. She teaches her sales people to learn this information so when the customer walks in they automatically know what they purchased on their last visit. Then she prompts her employees to ask, “Do you want the same?”

Keeping track of customer information is another form of efficiency because if they want the same amount of feed, supplement or vaccine the order can be put together for them quickly.

“We try to know people’s names, their animals and what they do,” she says. “We build relationships with them.”

Rein, her two full-time and five part-time employees all work to make CJ Feed & Supply stand out. They send Christmas cards and thank you notes. They also host a large open house for nearly 400 attendees and serve chili or roast a hog, all in an effort to show appreciation for their customer base. Rein wants to
be able to recognize a customer by the car or truck they just drove into the parking lot so by the time they hit the doors she can be ready to offer a greeting and meet their needs.

Still, Rein says the feed store is a business, not a bank. She has to be willing to call in accounts receivable and make sure the books are in order. Rein buys many products in volume so she can keep prices low. She also encourages her employees to look at price sheets each time they come out so they know when prices increase and are not surprised at the register.

Profiling customers is a natural fit for Rein, and it helps her understand the commitment and the investment a customer is willing to give to their animal and to her store. Asking the right question at the start keeps her efficient, and she knows when to push forward as well as hold back with her customers.

“You have to know how to manage and when to draw the line,” Rein says. “From time to time, I get into a rut but I take a step back and reevaluate. I believe it’s best to take care of those who will take care of you.”