World Pork Expo: Local impact on an international scale

Small town businesses take opportunity to network with pork producers

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson

The World Pork Expo drew a crowd of nearly 20,000 people this year. The trade show is a popular part of the expo, featuring hundreds of commercial exhibitors.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson The World Pork Expo drew a crowd of nearly 20,000 people this year. The trade show is a popular part of the expo, featuring hundreds of commercial exhibitors.

DES MOINES — Commercial exhibitors have the opportunity to meet with nearly 20,000 pork producers that attend the World Pork Expo each year.

JRG Livestock and Pet Supply, from Fort Dodge, and Iowa Select Farms Inc., from Iowa Falls, were among the hundreds of commercial exhibitors that were part of the trade show at the expo held in Des Moines June 7-9.

JRG Livestock and Pet Supply, which also has locations in places such as Lake City and Stratford, takes advantage of the international trade show in order to help promote the company and all that it offers.

The business is a family-owned and operated animal health company started in 1988 by current owner Roger Gustafson, his brother and a local veterinarian over 25 years ago, general manager Mike said.

“It gives us an opportunity to gain customers from all over the place,” he said. “All over the nation and beyond.”

The company, he said, primarily ships throughout the United States, but also sends products internationally through distributors that conduct overseas shipping.

Halligan said JRG Livestock and Pet Supply has over 20 employees that are made up of vet staff, pet groomers, retail sales, shipping and warehouse staff. The company supplies a variety of products to serve the livestock industry from feed and feeders to vaccines for all animals as well as veterinary supplies.

“The World Pork Expo is a great experience,” Halligan said. “It also gives us a chance to meet a lot of our customers that order from our catalog face to face. We get to meet with our customer base beyond the telephone.”

“It’s a great chance to network.”

Lisa Compart, who works in sales for JRG, said not too many may be aware of their business, so the World Pork Expo is a perfect platform for exhibiting.

“We do it to get our name out and to basically broadcast what we have available for people,” she said. “We take the opportunity to try to get new clientele and also to be able to catch up with old clientele.

“I enjoy trade shows, meeting new people and seeing people from previous years.”

Iowa Select Farms Inc.

Although Iowa Select Farms Inc. isn’t out to sell any products, having the opportunity to exhibit at the World Pork Expo is just as equally important to it.

Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms Inc., said they look forward to the show each year.

“This is something that we are a part of and want to engage with every year,” said Sorenson. “Obviously we are a member of the U.S. pork industry and we are our proud of that aspect.”

Sorenson said Iowa Select Farms, Inc. features a hospitality tent at the World Pork Expo each year featuring a lunch and entertainment for their invited guests.

“We want to say thank you to not only our employees and contractors that are here, but also our business suppliers too, because they are an important part of our business,” she said.

But it’s not just fun at the expo. Sorenson said they are able to get down to business too.

“We are able to do a lot of business here at the World Pork Expo over the course of the couple days,” she said.

Although Iowa Select Farms Inc. is an Iowa-based company, Sorenson said they look forward to the interaction with their global counterparts.

“As pork producers, it’s important to us. It’s a global industry,” she said. “There’s production going on in other countries just like here.

“We’re global with the aspect of what is going on with our trading partners and we’re all kind of interconnected as we have this mission to feed high-quality pork to a global population,” Sorenson added. “It’s really great to be here and see the different producers coming in from other countries.”

She went on to say Iowa Select Farms Inc. is “Glad we can roll out the welcome mat for them and share as much information with them as we can.”

Although there are pork producers from across the world, Sorenson said Iowa pork producers can relate to them.

“We all battle similar issues, such as herd health and producing a quality product and being efficient and sustainable. That all unites us,” she said.

Sorenson added Iowa Select Farms Inc. employees and contractors that attend the World Pork Expo take full advantage of the opportunity.

“We’re here as producers,” she said. “We are taking in the show. We have employees and our leadership team here that attend the seminars and walk through the buildings and see what is available and also build relationships.

“It’s something we look forward to every year,” Sorenson added. “We have a lot of fun and get a lot of work done.”

In addition, she said people in the industry are important.

“One of the things that would amaze you about being in the swine industry is the people are what makes this industry great and it’s important to have good relationships,” Sorenson said. “You want to come out and see the people that you do business with and celebrate being a part of the industry. We’re all about continuous improvement and the World Pork Expo helps us to become better producers.”

Iowa Select Farms Inc. is a privately owned, Iowa-based company that has been raising hogs since 1992.

Sorenson said they have grown to about 700 farms in the 49 counties of the state and produced a billion pounds of pork in 2016.

“We have 1,200 employees and 300 contractors that all live and work in Iowa’s rural communities,” Sorenson said.

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