Komatsu loaders “have more power and are much more fuel-efficient”
Earlier this year, J.D. Heiskell & Co.
expanded its Friona, Texas, operations by
adding a flaking operation that complements
its feed-grinding service. It’s just another in a
long line of expansions the company has seen
throughout its 125-year history.
Founded in California in 1886 by J.D.
Heiskell, the family-owned business has
continually grown through four generations,
partnerships and acquisitions to become one
of the United States’ largest livestock-feed
suppliers. Its products include rolled, flaked
and bumped grains, as well as custom vitamin
and mineral packages.
J.D. Heiskell’s great-grandson, Scot Hillman,
currently leads the company, which has a dozen
locations throughout eight states. Three years
ago, J.D. Heiskell & Co. opened its Southwest
Business Group regional office in Amarillo. The
Friona operations fall within that area, along
with a location in Portales, N.M.
“At Friona, we unload unit trains (100 rail
cars) of commodities that come from several
sources throughout the U.S. and Canada. Then
we grind and flake those commodities to make
feed for feedlots and dairies,” said Aaron Reid,
Vice President Southwest Business Group.
“The Portales location mixes minerals that
supplement the feeds. So each locale has its
unique niche, but they’re the same in terms
of the guiding principles J.D. Heiskell brings
to all its locations. Those include excellence,
innovation and integrity.”
Tailor to customer needs
Those guiding principles helped J.D.
Heiskell continue to develop and expand its
long customer list during the past century and
a quarter, but a good deal of its growth has
occurred in the last decade. During the most
recent 10-year span, the company grew 300
percent in volume, putting it among the Top
250 Privately Held Firms, according to Forbes
“We have what’s considered the nation’s
single, high-producing, feed mill in California,
and through a joint venture, the world’s largest
grain-rolling facility in Idaho,” said Reid.
“Our operations in Texas and New Mexico are
smaller in comparison, but no less important.
We bring the same commitment to all our
customers, and that’s to provide the best value
with high-quality products at competitive
One way it ensures that happens is by
listening to its customers and tailoring feed
rations to their specifications. “We have
nutrition experts who can custom blend rations
to fit customer needs,” Reid explained. “By
working closely with them, we can design
a feed mix of vitamins that best meets those
needs, so their livestock gets the most out of it.”
No matter the need, the rations begin
with the commodities J.D. Heiskell & Co. Continued . . .
brings into its facilities by rail: corn gluten,
dry distiller’s grain and canola at Friona, for
example. The company unloads the cars,
stockpiles the commodities, grinds and flakes
them and loads them back into trucks for
“We’re unloading thousands of tons of
commodities each month, and we load out
thousands of tons of product per day” said
David Musick, Friona Location Manager.
“We’re running nearly around the clock,
shipping not only to Texas and New Mexico,
but Colorado, Kansas and Mexico.”
Komatsu loaders stand out
To meet its production needs, J.D. Heiskell
& Co.’s Southwest Business Group mainly
uses Komatsu WA320PZ-6 wheel loaders
equipped with roll-off buckets. In the past year,
the company purchased three loaders with
the help of Kirby-Smith Machinery Territory
Manager Britt Stubblefield.
“The decision to buy Komatsu loaders was
easy because we had a Komatsu WA320, and
two top, competative brands, and the Komatsu
always stood out,” Musick pointed out. “We
have limited space in our storage facilities, so
keeping the stockpiles pushed up is extremely
important. The Komatsus allow us to go into the
pile and continue to push when the competitive
machines would stall out. That power also
is important when it comes to breaking up
the distiller’s grain, which can get hard. The
Komatsus are the only machines that will do it.
“The Komatsu loaders have more power
and are much more fuel-efficient,” he added.
“We did some comparisons and found that
when we started with a full tank first thing in
the morning, the competitive brands had to be
refueled in the middle of the afternoon, where
the Komatsu ran all day and into the next
before it needed refilling. Komatsu saves us a
substantial amount of fuel and money.”
Kirby-Smith Machinery’s Amarillo Service
Department performs service through a
three-year, 9,000-hour preventive maintenance
agreement. “Britt and Kirby-Smith are great to
work with. They keep track of the hours and
contact us to schedule the service,” Reid noted.
“Whenever we’ve needed something, they’ve
In addition to Komatsu loaders, J.D. Heiskell
& Co. purchased two NPK pedestal-boom
systems that are used to unload railcars at the
Friona facility. “The dry distiller’s grain tends
to adhere to itself and becomes like concrete,”
said Musick. “The NPKs break it up easily,
which makes our unloading more efficient.”
Finding ways to be more efficient has been a
hallmark of J.D. Heiskell & Co. since its founding.
It built one of the nation’s first computer-driven,
high-production feed mills in the 1970s.
“This company has been built on a tradition
of innovation and finding ways to better serve
our customers,” said Reid. “It will continue
that tradition while looking for expansion
possibilities. We’re still delivering product to
customers we’ve dealt with for decades, and at
the same time, we’re constantly gaining new
customers. As long as we continue to provide
quality products to their specifications, that
will always be the case.