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Hog Slat Inc. continues growth

By Staff | Feb 28, 2016

Jerry Kremer, warehouse manager at Hog Slat Inc. in Humboldt, explains where the new 100,000-square-foot warehouse is to be located. Hog Slat, Inc. began operation in Humboldt 21 years ago and has experienced steady growth since then.

HUMBOLDT – Since the company started operation in Humboldt 21 years ago, Hog Slat Inc. has displayed steady, consistent growth, and is preparing to continue its expansion in 2016 with a 100,000-square-foot warehouse. The warehouse will be located in the north section of Humboldt’s Northwest Industrial Park.

“We worked with the economic development board here in Humboldt and the city, and they were pretty interested in having us develop a little more and grow a little more,” said Jerry Kremer, warehouse manager in Humboldt. “They have been really supportive as far as everything we have done. They really kind of expedited the process for us.”

The family-owned company was launched in 1969 by Billy Herring in Newton Grove, North Carolina

Herring wanted to find a way to create a building or barn for pigs that could be kept clean. After careful thought and consideration,

Herring developed the slatted floor, allowing for manure and other waste to wash down off of the floor and into a pit below the building. The company is named Hog Slat after the slatted floors Herring invented.

Sande Construction began initial work at the site of the new warehouse in December. The warehouse will be used to store much of the company’s materials that must be kept inside.

Since that time, Hog Slat has expanded the business into building entire hog barns and it is now a leading manufacturer of hog equipment in the United States.

The company supplies and distributes whatever the farmers or integrators who raise hogs in confinement buildings need to build or maintain the buildings.

Those products include: gates, panels, rods, plumbing parts, feeder parts, heater parts, fan parts, lights and additional items.

The company has two warehouse distribution facilities, one in North Carolina, and the other in Humboldt. Those two facilities support nearly the entire sales for the company.

“We have smaller facilities in Poland and China as well,” said Kremer. “The facility in North Carolina serves the East Coast and southern part of the country, as well as international shipments.

“We serve most of the middle part of the country here. The customer base for the Humboldt operation expands all the way to the West Coast and as far east as Ohio.”

When Hog Slat first opened its doors in Humboldt it began with a 30,000-square-foot building. Eight years ago, it expanded to its first 100,000-square-foot warehouse. Now, the company is ready to add a second.

Sande Construction started the initial work for the warehouse in December and is expected to ramp up the construction in the spring. The completion of the new warehouse is anticipated for May or early June, according to Kremer.

Kremer said Hog Slat has the need to expand in order to keep up with market changes.

“Fifty years ago the farmers were just supplying food to their nearby communities or region of the country and today they are supplying food for the entire world,” said Kremer. “So as our customers have expanded their market so has our need to grow to supply their needs in terms of what it takes for us to keep up with the growing hog market.”

Kremer also said the branch in Humboldt got involved in the poultry market two years ago.

As a result, it has begun carrying parts needed to build or maintain these buildings used to raise chickens and turkeys.

“The poultry market has always existed but we did not pursue it here in the Midwest,” said Kremer. “An acquisition of a company called Georgia Poultry about 13 years ago got us into the poultry business in the South and East. We brought a few salesman who have been successful in getting us into the position of being a regular supplier for some nice accounts.”

In Humboldt, Hog Slat has two different facilities. One is used to make the slatted floors and the other is used to distribute to the retail stores, Internet orders and new construction.

Kremer says Hog Slat’s growth has been rapid, especially within the last few years.

“We are growing all the time,” said Kremer. “Within the last couple of years we have actually seen the most growth within our retail sector. We started a store in Carroll, in 1999.

“We opened a few more in Fairmont, Minnesota, and Sioux Center, in 2000 and now we supply 30 retail stores from the Humboldt Distribution Center.

“That gives you an idea of the kind of growth we have had since 1999.”

In the last six months alone, Hog Slat has opened stores in Independence, Iowa and Mitchell, South Dakota.

Hog Slat has also developed its own exclusive label, called Grower Select, in the feed systems and ventilation systems within the new barns that the company constructs, according to Kremer.

“Given that farmers raising livestock are always impacted by the price of a bushel of corn to feed the livestock, when we can offer options such as our Grower Select products, we are supporting their overall cost of operations or lowering their investment costs to start a building,” said Kremer.

The company also started assembling its own fans in 2015. It builds 24, 36 and 54 inch fans. The fans are currently being assembled at the old Bomgaars building in Humboldt.

“That’s really taken off and grown well in our nine months of operation with those fans,” said Kremer.

Once the new warehouse is completed, the plan is to move some of the fan operations into the current warehouse.

The current warehouse employs around 50 people. Kremer anticipates more jobs being added in the near future for continued growth.

“We’ve had growth every year,” said Kremer. “We continue to grow, both in our retail and Internet sales, as well as construction.

“We are expecting this year to be another big year and we want to make sure we are taking care of products and increasing our ability to take care of our customers.”

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