By Megan Oleksyn,
It all started as an alternative market for Lanigan, Sk area farmers to sell their grain. It is now a 28,500 head/year feedlot, a 13 million litre ethanol plant and a great asset to the community.
Pound-Maker began in 1970, as a 2500 head feedlot so local farmers had an alternative market for their grain. At the time there were 50 local area farmer shareholders and by the 1980€™s it had already grown to 8500 head. After conducting feasibility studies and working with the community, in 1991 an additional 10 000 head feedlot and a 10 million litre ethanol plant were constructed.
At the same time, a share offering was made and the original 50 shareholders grew to over 200. Even today, the shareholders of Pound-Maker Investments have the first right to deliver grain, price and quality being equal. If additional supplies are needed, only then non-shareholders and other grain companies can deliver. There are 52% of the shares held within a 20 mile radius of Pound-Maker, and an additional 28% between 20 and 50 miles of the feedlot. The remaining 20% covers every corner of Saskatchewan, as well as most of Canada.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of this Saskatchewan success story and on Friday June 25th, over 400 people gathered at the Lanigan Arena to celebrate, enjoying a prime rib supper from beef raised right down the road at Pound-Maker. The Provincial Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Bob Bjonerud, addressed the crowd, remarking on the solid contribution to agriculture and local community that Pound-Maker has had over the last 40 years.
Why has this feedlot been so successful when others have floundered in the trying times the beef industry is experiencing? Diversification and of course, the people. When the original feedlot opened, Pound-Maker had 15 employees and since, has increased to over 50, with 75% of these employees being born and raised locally. Pound-Maker has always made decisions based on local benefit. And the development of the ethanol plant is a perfect example of those values being exercised. Just as the first feedlot was opened to provide an alternative grain marketing option, the ethanol plant was constructed to once again diversify the marketing options for local farmers and to provide more employment opportunities to the area.
President of Pound-Maker, Brad Wildeman is a prime example of the Pound-Maker philosophy. Growing up just five miles from the Pound-Maker site, Brad€™s first job there was building the original feedlot pens while still in high school. Proud of the growth and success Pound-maker has seen since then, Brad says, €œAlthough many things have changed at Pound-Maker over the years as we have grown and adopted new techniques and technologies, the basic principles that founded the company 40 years ago are still paramount; providing market opportunity for our shareholders, meaningful employment in our area, and contributing to building strong local communities are still as important as providing a solid financial return.€
But despite their local, small-town focus, this organization is not behind the times. In keeping up with the latest technology they are able to consistently improve operations and expand. In 1994 and in 1998, feedlot expansion occurred resulting in a one-time capacity of 28,500 head. And since the plant opened, ethanol production has increased to 13 million litres due to technological improvements.
By continually investing in its people, its infrastructure and its community, I think we can bet on seeing Pound-Maker celebrate many more anniversaries in the future.