Since the 1970’s Pierce Seeds, Inc. in Caruthersville, Missouri has been in the business of cleaning and processing seeds for replanting, focused primarily on soybeans. Business was good, but the company’s owners were looking for new opportunities to grow their business. They needed to think innovatively, assessing ways to use existing, underutilized equipment when possible, and evaluating possible capital equipment upgrades. They saw an opportunity in rice processing, knocking off husks, blending light stain and regular rice, then cleaning and milling it to a grade suitable for animal consumption, but they didn’t know exactly where to begin.
Pierce Seed came to Missouri Enterprise for assistance. Using resources available through the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA), Missouri Enterprise’s experts began by conducting a feasibility study to assess whether a profitable revenue stream could be developed in rice processing. Results of the study showed there was indeed a market in the pet food industry for raw rice that was damaged or stained and not suitable for human consumption. By milling and cleaning the less-than-perfect rice product, Pierce Seeds could add value to it and return a reasonable profit.
The next step was finding potential customers. Missouri Enterprise is well connected to an extensive network of public and private partners, vendors, service providers and supply chain partners in the manufacturing community and related industries, so they tapped into their peer network on behalf of Pierce Seeds, and identified three companies in the pet food industry who were ideal buyers for the processed rice. After making the necessary capital equipment upgrades to supplement their existing capabilities (and realizing tax credits available through MASBDA), Pierce Seeds had most of what they needed to set up their rice milling operation.
But as with any food grade products, even for the pet industry, the rigid standards of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP) system had to be met to ensure product quality and safety. The HAACP Certified experts at Missouri Enterprise helped Pierce Seed set up and implement the critical processes and record keeping systems they needed to pass their HAACP certification and begin production.
“Missouri Enterprise did an incredible job helping us go from assessing our options, to planning our approach and ultimately implementing that plan,” says Jeff Pierce, Owner. “Thanks to their expertise and guidance, we’re now shipping 8-9 truckloads of rice per week and we’re in the process of adding new customers. The operation is profitable and growing, and we have Missouri Enterprise to thank for that.”