The old feed mill located at 700 Miami St. in Urbana is a prime example of why it’s not always wise to judge a book, or in this case a manufacturing facility, by its cover or facade.
“The amazing thing is people drive by and think it’s an abandoned building,” said longtime Mechanicsburg resident Dale Thompson, who took over as manager of Premier Feeds LLC – Urbana Feed Plant in July.
The fact is the property is far from being an industrial graveyard.
Owned by Ohio-based Premier Solutions, Premier Feeds has been manufacturing pellet feed from its Urbana location since 2003, and business is good.
“People just don’t realize what leaves out of this building on a daily basis,” Thompson said. “We produce on average about 70 tons a day of custom-made pellet feed.”
So who is consuming all this feed? The answer is pretty much all the staple farm animals.
“We make llama and alpaca feed, swine feed, equine feed, calf feed, dairy cow feed, beef feed, goat and sheep feed and chicken feed,” Thompson said. “One of our biggest sellers is rabbit feed, a lot of which is shipped out of state.”
The feed manufactured at the plant comes in both mini- and regular-sized pellets that are either sold by the bulk and transported by semitrailer or bagged and shipped throughout the country.
“We not only manufacture feed under the Premier Feeds brand, but we also manufacture feed for other companies (packaging done in-house),” Thompson said. “We also supply feed and pellets to other grain elevators.
“A lot of farmers are buying feed from other companies not realizing that they might have in their feed one of our pellets because a lot of the feed companies will buy pellets from us to mix in with their corn, oat or ground feed,” he added.
The plant also produces medicated feed, a process highly regulated by not only the company, but also the government.
“We do mix drugs into some of our feed, but under the current protocols, this request has to come from a veterinarian, not the customer,” Thompson said. “As a company, we require that a supervisor has to accompany an employee when they pull drugs to make sure they are getting the right amount for that particular feed. Also, the Ohio Department of Agriculture monitors us very closely and could come inspect us at any moment.”
Test branch for company
Premier Feeds is one of several branches under the umbrella of Premier Solutions, whose slogan is “Helping Farmers Feed the World.” Other branches of the company, which is headquartered 10 miles east of Wilmington in the village of Sabina, include Premier Grain LLC and Feed The World LLC (livestock exporting). The company also offers truck washing, transloading, and manure hauling and application services.
Thompson said the Urbana feed plant is unique to Premier Solutions in that it serves as an “experimental facility” of sorts.
“Basically, we’ve implemented a lot of things here that other parts of our company don’t have,” he said.
One area the company decided to experiment with was its supervising positions.
“Normally, the supervisor would be the senior guy on the floor, and a lot of times we found out the senior guy on the floor is probably not the best guy to be supervising,” Thompson said.
To address the issue, the plant was allowed to hire supervisors for each shift, which turned out to be a wise decision.
“Our experiment here is working well,” Thompson said. “We’ve become very efficient in our feed production while still ensuring we are making high-quality pellets.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.