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Quality Roasting, Inc. proudly feeds cows and humans

The Valders-based feed provider has seen significant growth since its humble beginnings in 1991

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August 10, 2023

VALDERS – Founded in Valders in 1991, Quality Roasting Inc.– known to some as “Roaster” – was established to meet a demand for high-quality soybean products in cattle diets.

Much has changed for the company in the past 30-plus years.

The company’s original roasting facility was built with 4,000 bushel of storage space. 

Quality Roasting has since grown to more than 2.5 million bushel of storage space and employs more than 40 employees between three facilities in Wisconsin and Michigan.

In 2000, the company began specializing in the production of Exceller Meal®, a feed ingredient for high-producing dairy cows, which catapulted it into becoming a leader in the industry.

Branching out
Since its beginning, Erin Davis, director of business operation, said Quality Roasting focused on the dairy industry.

However, in the last five years, the company has expanded its product offerings into the food industry.

“Not only do we feed cows, but we feed humans directly with our vegetable oil,” she said. “Also, we have expanded meal production and products that are designed for other livestock – so, not just dairy but poultry and swine with organic products.”

In the past three-plus decades, Davis said there have been many changes in the dairy industry.

“As the dairy industry has consolidated over the last several decades, so has the feed industry,” she said. “As some of the smaller mom and pop feed mills are becoming much larger, our customer base is getting much smaller. They are getting larger but the number of them has decreased.”

Davis said feed trials are required before soybean meal goes to market.

“My father, Dr. Lynn Davis, is a dairy nutritionist and one of the founding partners (of Quality Roasting),” she said. “He is involved in the actual feeding trials to prove out the science.”

Davis said Quality Roasting, Inc., has also been doing studies with University of Minnesota since 2012, as well as with Michigan State and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and their nutrition schools.

Quality Roasting, Inc.’s Valders facility is located at 2514 Marken Road. Photo Courtesy of Quality Roasting, Inc.

“Along with my father being a dairy nutritionist, he owns dairy farms in Wisconsin, too, so we have access to cows for a test market,” she said. “The thing about cows is that they don’t cheat. You put something in front of them and they are just going to eat. It eliminates human error.”

Davis said Quality Roasting, Inc. has carved its own niche in a commodity industry.

“Our meal is very specifically designed, and it works,” she said. “Exceller Meal is a value-added soybean produced premium meal that is proprietary to Quality Roasting, Inc. It’s always fun when you make a product that works and is easy to sell.”

Davis said Exceller Meal is sold directly to feed manufacturers who then sell to the end user or farms.

“Our biggest challenge is more on the oil side,” she said. “We have a sales director, Tom Lohr, in charge of our meal sales along with the support from my father. We also have a consulting nutritionist that we use to help us with nutrition trends and commodities.”

Scott Rabe, chief executive officer, said the Quality Roasting, Inc. business model is based on the strategic positioning of facilities and its proximity to both cows and soybeans.

Rabe said most of the company’s soybeans are located within 180 miles of its facilities and feed cows within 200 miles of their facilities in Valders and Owen and Reese, Michigan.

He said the company strategically uses its multiple locations rather than one large manufacturing facility because it allows Quality Roasting to support local industries.

“One key ingredient that has made us successful is that we locate plants close to the dairy cows, as well as soybeans that the cows eat,” he said. “Having those resources all in one area and cutting down on your transportation cost is key. We are more of a local company dealing with your local farmers and feed dealers, which is the basis of our solid business plan. Everybody knows everybody and makes it more like family.”

Another competitive advantage for Quality Roasting, Inc., Rabe said, is its exchange program.

“A lot of dairy farms will take advantage of that,” he said. “They can grow the soybeans and bring them to us. We will store them and they can take out product throughout the year as they need it.”

Rabe said smaller feed operations like the program.

“Some of the larger feed manufacturers find that hard to manage, but when it is more of that direct farmer relationship, they (certainly) take advantage of that,” he said.

All industries face challenges and the soybean industry is no exception, Davis said.

“Milk prices have a very large influence on our products that not only our customers face, but what we face as well,” she said. “Cows produce more milk by eating our product but it does come at a cost. If milk prices are on a downswing, (because of an excess supply), it affects us greatly.” 

Davis said like many other companies across a variety of industries, one of the biggest challenges Quality Roasting deals with is finding the right employees.

Rabe said building a solid workforce boils down to several things.

“You treat people well and you pay them well,” he said. “Communication and flexibility both contribute to a happy workplace, too. And, people like to eat, so if you bring them food (in the workplace), they’re happy.”

In 2000, Quality Roasting started producing Exceller Meal®, a feed ingredient for high-producing dairy cows. Photo Courtesy of Quality Roasting, Inc.

Davis said the company recently hired Patty Andre as its human resource director – which she said has already made an impact and fits into the Quality Roasting culture.

Having the right recruitment plan is always key, Davis said.

Continuing that growth trajectory, Davis said, also involves bringing in new people.

“We have had to reach outside of the family in recent years,” she said. “We have extremely high retention, but bringing people that you trust into that circle is a little bit scary. We always say you tend to find better people when you approach them versus those looking for a job. It will continue to be important that we get our name and our values out there. We can attract people that way.”

Community connection
Hannah Rabe, marketing assistant, said she believes that Quality Roasting, Inc.’s role in the community plays a big part and extends the notion of family.

“As a company deeply rooted in agriculture, we value the hard work and dedication of our local farmers,” she said. “Engaging with the community allows us to establish direct relationships with farmers, grain dealers and dairy producers.”

As a family-owned business itself, Hannah Rabe said Quality Roasting views its employees, customers and the community as part of our extended family.

“This mindset drives us to foster a sense of responsibility and shared purpose in the community we serve by supporting local schools, FFA and 4-H,” she said.

A family affair
As the daughter of one of the company’s founding members, Davis said her family has always been involved in the dairy industry.

“My parents met in graduate school,” she said. “My dad is a dairy nutritionist and my mom went to school for poultry science. My dad started in the dairy nutrition business in the 80s, my mom being partnered with him as well. My parents have always been connected with dairy.”

Her family, Davis said, is definitely entrepreneurs in the agriculture business sector.

“My grandfather had a 50-cow dairy farmer business in northern Wisconsin,” she said. “I never lived on a farm, but have been around them my entire life. My mom’s side of the family are engineers. So, I went to engineering school at the University of Minnesota majoring in chemical engineering.”

Though she didn’t work with Quality Roasting right out of college, Davis said her career focus had connections with the dairy processing industry – milk drawing, evaporating and dairy dryers.

Quality Roasting, Inc. was founded in 1991 to meet a demand for high-quality soybean products in cattle diets. Photo Courtesy of Quality Roasting, Inc.

When Scott Rabe – another one of the company’s founding members – began talking about retiring, Davis said she was asked to come on board.

“About seven years ago is when I got the call to see if I would be interested in coming to Quality Roasting, Inc. and helping out,” she said. “I’ve been working (and learning) alongside Scott Rabe. It’s fun and I’ve had a lot of growth.”

Looking to the future
Scott Rabe said the outlook for the industry as a whole will create its challenges in the future as well.

“There is going to be a lot of growth in the soybean processing world, and I believe the growth brings competition, which can be good or bad depending on how it evolves,” he said. “There will be a high demand for soybeans and only so many suppliers available.”

Davis said one of Quality Roasting’s greatest limiting factors to growth is space.

“Our reach is limited by how we can transport our products at a lower cost,” she said. “Adding more facilities outside of Wisconsin and Michigan would directly affect that. Also, we started some consumer products with bottling oil for the food service industry – (which we could expand as well).”

Scott Rabe said Quality Roasting, Inc. has much to show for its 30-plus years in the industry. “It’s humbling to be a part of a family company in our world where we still have a big impact,” he said. “We have a wide range of consumers that we feed, whether it’s a cow or human, you can impact a lot by being an expert at one thing and having a strong team of people by your side.”

For more on Quality Roasting, Inc., visit or find them on Facebook.

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