By: William Morris
January 4, 2018
OWATONNA — Ohio-based Pro-Pet, which makes high-grade pet food in Owatonna, Kansas and Ohio, will soon be under new ownership.
Minnesota-based Cargill, the largest privately held corporation in the United States, announced Tuesday it is purchasing Pro-Pet for an undisclosed amount. The deal is expected to close within 30 days.
A press release from Cargill stressed Pro-Pet’s expertise in premium pet food as an important addition to Cargill’s portfolio. Pro-Pet will join Cargill Animal Nutrition, which operates more than 275 facilities with more than 20,000 employees around the world, and includes both agricultural feed and pet food operations.
“The pet food category continues to change, as indicated by the increased focus on premium offerings,” said Mark Lueking, U.S. managing director, Cargill Feed and Nutrition. “Pro-Pet has the capability to satisfy this market need, and our mutual passion for serving customers make us a strong cultural fit. We look forward to growing the business together by delivering a range of options to meet customer demand.”
Owatonna’s Pro-Pet plant is wrapping up a major expansion, started in 2016, to add 2,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 of warehouse space as well as about 10 additional jobs, putting total payroll at more than 40. Plant manager Tim Bush said he and his team are greeting the Cargill news with celebration.
“We’re excited for this,” he said. “I think this is a very good direction to go.”
Bush said he was pleased by Cargill’s Minnesota roots and described the company as a “class act” in how it goes about business.
“[The purchase] is going to be very well-accepted around here, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We’re hopefully going to be a value added to them, and in the future going forward.”
For Pro-Pet, which employs more than 150 workers across its different facilities, Cargill offers opportunities to connect to a wider network of suppliers and distributors.
“Cargill’s vast resources and competency in sourcing of commodities, along with their reputation in the agricultural retail business sector, makes Cargill the natural and best partner for Pro-Pet,” said Jim Wiegmann, president and CEO of Pro-Pet, in the Cargill press release. “There is no organization that can leverage the strengths and capabilities of Pro-Pet better than Cargill, which will enhance our ability to serve retail partners and pet food brand owners.”
Bush said he’s not currently aware of any plans to change operations in Owatonna under Cargill. While he’s enthusiastic to hear more about Cargill’s plans, for the time being, he said, it’s “business as usual” for the Owatonna plant.
William Morris got his start in the newspaper trade as a recurring editorial intern in Wisconsin and has been writing about business, government and crime at the Owatonna People’s Press since 2015. He now splits his time working with the newspaper and as Associate Editor for Forge.