Technology campus close to agreement on bringing in new company

WILLMAR -- A West-Coast company that develops, manufactures and sells robotic feeding systems for the hog industry is in line to become the first outside tenant to be recruited to the MinnWest Technology Campus.

WILLMAR -- A West-Coast company that develops, manufactures and sells robotic feeding systems for the hog industry is in line to become the first outside tenant to be recruited to the MinnWest Technology Campus.

A deal is in the final stages of being negotiated with Feedlogic Systems Inc. to move its operation to the newly established technology campus in Willmar.

It is contingent on settling several key issues, including financing.

Feedlogic CEO Andrew "Drew" Ryder said he's optimistic, however, that the deal will go through.

"Everything looks good. We're on track," he said Tuesday during a visit to meet with technology campus officials.


The company could be moved into its new office by Jan. 1, he said. It also recently signed a reseller's agreement with PALS Equipment, a division of Life-Science Innovations of Willmar, one of the first tenants of the new campus. The recruitment of its first outside tenant is a milestone for the MinnWest Technology Campus, which opened earlier this year on a portion of the former Willmar Regional Treatment Center campus. A private company, MinnWest Technology, founded by a handful of Willmar companies, purchased part of the treatment center campus from the state of Minnesota and is turning it into a center for the technology industry.

"We're thrilled to have Feedlogic Systems joining Life-Science Innovations, Midwest Data, Epitopix and Nova-Tech Engineering on the MinnWest Technology Campus," said Ray Norling, president of Life-Science Innovations. "We see tremendous opportunities for collaboration with many of our businesses, including PALS and Nova-Tech as well as many others."

Negotiations with Feedlogic Systems began this past April.

Ryder said Feedlogic Systems chose Willmar over five other candidates -- another city in Minnesota and four in Iowa.

"The bottom line is Willmar delivered the goods," he said. "For the product we're selling, this is the right community to be in."

The 5-year-old company currently has offices in Sumas, Wash., and Abbotsford, British Columbia. It's poised for significant growth but in order to accomplish this, it needed to move to the Midwest, where the center of U.S. hog production is located, Ryder said.

"That's where most of our customers are now and going to be in the future," he said.

The company could conceivably double its sales within the first year, he said. "We have a plan which we're hoping to execute. We think that it's doable. The market potential is absolutely huge."


Feedlogic Systems is a pioneer in developing robotic, high-precision feeding systems designed to deliver customized feed mixes to hogs. The company holds at least one patent on its technology and plans to develop other patented products as well, Ryder said.

It has long been a challenge for hog producers to tailor their feeding systems in a way that maximizes both the nutritional benefit and the cost-effectiveness, Ryder said.

Studies have shown that hogs' nutritional needs change frequently as they're growing; the needs of individual animals can vary as well. By turning to innovative software and hardware to precisely calibrate each animal's feed, producers can increase its effectiveness -- and better manage feed costs as well, Ryder said.

Feedlogic's technology also enables the farmer to receive real-time data on each hog's eating patterns.

"We need to get better at understanding what's going on on a day-to-day basis. We now have a technology that can get that data," Ryder said.

With worldwide pork production growing 2 to 3 percent a year, there's significant potential for companies like Feedlogic, he said. "We'll be international."

Ryder said Feedlogic will create 10 to 15 jobs within the first six months to a year after it relocates to Willmar. "If we grow quickly, that would be accelerated," he said.

Within five years, the company could have 40 to 50 employees.


Because it's relocating with only a handful of employees, finding additional qualified workers will be essential, Ryder said. "That's going to be the challenge. We're almost starting from ground zero. We're really trying to build the company here... It's exciting and scary at the same time. We're taking a big leap but at the same time it needs to be done."

Ryder had praise for how local officials -- particularly those with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission -- have handled the negotiations.

"They said, 'Here's what we're going to do.' They were ready," he said. "That's so important when you're trying to put together a package like this. There haven't been a lot of barriers in this deal."

The technology campus and its potential for creating synergy among tech-related businesses also was a selling point.

"If you're doing innovative things and developing new products, you want to be in an atmosphere that allows that," Ryder said. "Obviously we'd like to grow. As we grow we think that'll help this community and this campus."

What To Read Next
Get Local