Ag Careers Spotlight: Formulators

Mill in Friona with sunset in background

Last month, the Hi-Pro blog introduced our Ag Careers blog with a spotlight on our nutritionists in the hope of showcasing hard working individuals of our industry, and also providing information for anyone who may be interested in building a career in agriculture or as a nutritionists. This month, we focus on some unsung heroes of the feed industry, Formulators.

Formulators build new and maintain exiting diets by navigating the complexities of nutrition, production, trading/logistics, sales, pricing, and customer service. Brooke DeWinne, Hi-Pro formulator for four years, describes the challenges formulators in the feed industry face as “fast-paced, progressive at times, with lots of moving parts.” This combination brings an incredible challenge to fit all of the puzzle pieces together to make our business work.

The day to day work of a formulator can vary. Jenna Olenick, also with Hi-Pro for four years, says “Our day to day tasks and objectives change often and every day can be as different as the day before. The dairy requests come in quite regularly with formula changes, formula bids and pricing requests. I typically begin my day by checking our ingredient inventory to see if there are any concerns with logistics/procurement to discuss on my daily call with the Clovis mill. If there are any substitution needs, I work on reformulating the products affected and getting the new formulas sent to production. Our team manages incoming Veterinary Feed Directives (VFD) and confirms that everything is set up correctly before we sell customers feed affected by the VFD. I would say most of my day is spent on formula and pricing requests including product set-up in our system(s) and creating/updating tags.”

DeWinne confirms the day to day of their job varies greatly with the variety of tasks/responsibilities of the role. She adds that a more typical day consists of working with in-house nutritionists on improving/developing new feeds to take to market, working through challenging programs with our trading/logistics group to leverage current markets, building custom diets with outside nutritionists, supporting sales staff with bidding contracts and product identification/information, working alongside production to improve efficiencies and supporting product setup in our accounting software.

The path to becoming a formulator is similar to that of a nutritionist. Both Olenick and DeWinne have Master’s degrees. Doyle Hightower entered the position after obtaining his Bachelor’s in Agriculture and has since honed his skill set and knowledge with an impressive 49 years of work with Hi-Pro Feeds. Hightower grew up on a dairy farm, and that sparked his interest in the field of agriculture. “After graduating, I started with Gore Bros (who later sold to Hi-Pro Feeds) in dairy management, and then moved into the feed office where I started in procurement of ingredients. I began helping with formulation and have been for the last twenty years,” said Hightower.

Despite the complexities and challenges, the formulators all agree that it’s the collaboration that makes their job the most rewarding. Hightower says, “The reward of the job is gaining the trust of the nutritionist you work with when you get their formulas done correctly.”

DeWinne agrees and adds, “First, the people are one of the best things about my job. I have the opportunity to interact on a daily basis with some of the best people in the business. We have a fantastic group of folks here at Hi-Pro and it is truly a blessing to collaborate and learn from them daily.” She also reflects on the rewards of working in agriculture. “I feel most blessed that at the end of the day that I am able to play a small part in a much bigger picture. I get to help provide safe, cost effective, and high performing feed to livestock to help feed the world, foster the growth of a rapidly changing industry, and network with some of the brightest minds in the business. I am extremely proud of the work we do and look forward to continuing my work through a long successful career.“

Olenick concludes stating, “The most rewarding part of my job is serving the industry that feeds the world. Agriculture is an industry I love and the demand to feed the world is constantly increasing. It is rewarding to be a part of something so significant. “

Hi-Pro is proud to have such talented and driven people ensuring our feed is top-notch.

Are you working as a formulator? Tell us your story!