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C & S Products is a legend in manufacturing

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The Iowa Association of Business and Industry honored C & S Products, headquartered in Fort Dodge, with the Legnds in Manufacturing award.

Fort Dodge-based C & S Products was recently named one of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s Legends in Manufacturing.

And Karen Alstott, who co-founded the company along with her husband Kevin Alstott in 1986, said the company’s success is directly attributed to its people.

“We have a lot of good people out there,” Alstott said. “That’s why we are where we are. We have common goals and that keep us moving up the ladder.”

C & S Products Co. Inc., a producer of wild bird food, employs less than 100 people. The company distributes throughout the United States, Canada and over to France.

The Legends in Manufacturing awards are split into three categories — an individual from a company with fewer than 100 employees, an individual from a company with between 100-300 employees and an individual from a company with more than 300 employees.

Karen Alstott found out about six weeks ago that C & S had been nominated one of the awards.

She didn’t find out the company won until the night of the banquet on Oct. 1. The banquet was held at Prairie Meadows Event Center in Altoona.

“It was a surprise,” Karen Alstott said.

She said ABI looked at things like automation and income brought into the state.

“We are very automated, very computer-oriented on what we track,” Karen Alstott said. “We have better paying jobs because they have to be electricians and machinists and troubleshooters. We have well paying positions within our company.”

Employees work a four-day work week.

“We run two 10-hour shifts,” Karen Alstott said.

The animal fats for the product comes in liquid form in tankers that are unloaded into the facility.

“We go through our process to bring it up to the standards,” Karen Alstott said. “We want to sell this product year-round. We have many steps throughout that process to get that product ready.”

As the fat goes through the line, it’s monitored closely.

“People are watching the line and the machines are doing the work,” Karen Alstott said. “You have to have people to fix the machines if they break down, but the process is not being touched by the people.”

She said the company has two robots that palletize.

C & S sells to big box stores such as Walmart. It also has multiple private label accounts.

Karen Alstott said the company has always had a forward-thinking approach.

“We have always tried to be ahead of the game,” she said. “We really didn’t worry about competition. We wanted to make a great product and take care of our customers.”

Karen Alstott added, “After 33 years it’s nice to be recognized by others in the industry for what we have been able to accomplish.”

C & S has two plants — its main facility on Cardinal Avenue on the north side of Fort Dodge and the other on Central Avenue.

There was a $3.1 million expansion of the C&S Products main plant in 2011. A new warehouse was built nearby in 2013.

In June, C & S was acquired by Central Garden & Pet Co., of Walnut Creek, California.

Kevin Alstott now serves as president of C & S, while Karen Alstott serves as vice president.

“We will be around for another five years at least,” Karen Alstott said. “That will be up to us. We aren’t seeing a lot of changes. The funding is from elsewhere, but everything else is running like it was before.”

The company recently purchased the old Plumb Supply building, which Karen Alstott said will be used for additional storage for packing material.

Central Garden & Pet Co. was established in 1980. Its many products include Kaytee pet and bird food and supplies and Zodiac flea and tick control items. It posts more than $1.8 million in annual sales and has a workforce of about 5,000 employees.