“We wanted another WA200 because of how the first one performed”
Steve Wallace got his start in the livestock business when he was a teenager and eventually opened Wallace Pork Systems. In need of a more efficient way to supply his operation, Wallace built his own feed mill in Winamac, Ind.
“Wallace Pork Systems has about 1,200 sows that produce 25,000 market pigs annually,” explained Feed Mill Manager DeWayne Doty. “We had purchased our feed from the neighbor, who owned the property where we currently operate. He was getting ready to retire, so he sold us this land. We made our first load of feed on March 4, 2011, at 1:30 a.m.”
What began as a way to feed the company’s livestock soon developed into a revenue stream.
“We felt there was some growth potential with the mill,” remembered Doty. “We made the decision to manufacture for others, and it’s been successful.”
To accomplish that goal, Wallace Pork Systems needed to expand its feed mill. The company built a 36,000-square-foot facility with several 34-foot bays and an office for its 30 employees. Then it went to work developing a customer base.
“I knocked on a lot of doors,” laughed Doty. “Through time, we built a strong network by working with customers and delivering a quality product. It’s much easier to keep a customer than to find a new one.”
Today, Doty estimates 90 percent of the 1,000 tons of feed that Wallace Pork Systems produces each week is shipped to end users in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.
“We supply customers in the pork, dairy and beef industries, in addition to our own livestock,” noted Doty. “One customer has 8,000 dairy cows, another has 50,000 pigs, so we are able to do some pretty big orders. We take care of the majority of deliveries with our trucks – that provides more control over the quality and process.”
Quick, customized, safe
Every batch of feed that the company creates is tailored to customer specifications. Wallace Pork Systems’ calling card is having the flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of customers and their animals’ diets.
“Things pop up unexpectedly in this business,” said Doty. “If someone wants an order as soon as possible or needs to adjust the mix because of the weather or other factors, we can do that and deliver it the next day. Larger, corporate feed mills tend to have stricter policies that require a few days lead time when changing an order. We’re a lot nimbler in that regard.”
Doty also takes great pride in producing high-quality products. While the components for Wallace Pork Systems’ feed mixes are grown off-site, Doty and his team procure the raw ingredients to create customized orders.
“Most of our customers have livestock nutritionists, and they tell us the specific mix needed,” Doty detailed. “We work closely with them to ensure that we are getting exactly what they require. Usually, it’s a complete mix that’s fed right to the animal. Other times, we make just one component – vitamins, amino acids or trace minerals – and the customer blends that with its feed. We’re like the chocolate chips on top of the cookie in that regard.”
In addition to fast and customized orders, Wallace Pork Systems goes the extra mile to meet high standards.
“We have a safe feed, safe food initiative,” commented Doty. “We work closely with the FDA, and sometimes their visits are four days long, but it’s worth it to make sure we have a quality product.”
Komatsu delivers continuously
A common saying within the heavy equipment industry states that the customer buys the first machine, while the service and support of the distributor and productivity of the machine sell the second. That was true for Wallace Pork Systems. It purchased a Komatsu WA200-6 wheel loader from Brandeis Machinery & Supply Company and Sales Rep Doug Fox in 2010 before the feed mill opened. However, because of the loader’s durability, it took 38,000 hours and nine years before the adage came to fruition.
“We really liked the Komatsu WA200,” said Doty. “It was such a great machine. We ran it 24 hours a day for a while, and it only needed a few minor fixes. It was still going 10 or 12 hours when we purchased a new one. Through the years, I bet that 50 different operators ran our original loader.
“More importantly, Brandeis is an excellent partner,” he added. “When we bought the first machine, service and parts availability were very important. Doug followed through on every promise. I’ve called him a few times in ‘911-emergency’ mode, and he always comes through.”
When it was time to retire the loader in 2019, Doty turned to Brandeis for another WA200 wheel loader, this time a Dash-8 model.
“We wanted another WA200 because of how the first one performed,” noted Doty. “The hydrostatic transmission is perfectly suited for our work. It was just a solid machine, and there was never a need to replace the brakes.”
Wallace Pork Systems uses the WA200 to load and mix the ingredients for orders. Because the material is very light, the machine can use a bigger bucket, allowing for larger loads and fewer trips. That, in conjunction with the size and performance, makes the WA200 a great fit.
“We are tight on space, and the WA200 is the perfect size,” explained Doty. “We’ve tried some larger ones to see how they fit, but the WA200 is just right. It handles the loads great, yet is small enough to maneuver around.”
Fox helped Doty outfit the original WA200-6 loader to optimize it for the company’s application. Handling the lightweight feed components inside a warehouse creates a dusty environment, which can wreak havoc on the loader’s radiator. To address that issue, the two developed a creative solution.
“Doug suggested contacting a local radiator shop that also worked on race cars,” said Doty. “They came up with a fabrication that worked great. The new (WA200-8) loader has a larger pattern and more spacing, so the radiator is easier to blow out.”
Doty says resolving issues like keeping the radiator clean is just one example of how Brandeis goes above and beyond for his operation.
“We have purchased two machines in nine years, so I know we aren’t Brandeis’ biggest customer, although they treat us like we are,” said Doty. “They have been great. The service has been fantastic; I am very happy with Doug and Brandeis.”
Being what Doty considers a medium-size feed mill is one of the driving factors for Wallace Pork Systems’ success. While maintaining that stature is important, he says there is still room to grow without compromising the flexibility that enables the operation to thrive.
“We are running approximately 1.2 shifts a day, and we could easily get to 2.2,” he noted. “We have the capability to produce nearly twice as much feed per week as we’re currently doing. I think we have the opportunity to meet that mark, while still maintaining what makes us unique. Customers are loyal because we get them what they want, when they want it. As long as we continue to do that, we’ll be successful.”