Our HistoryThe company was founded in 1961 by Fred and Loren Doll (father and son) and Norbert Irsik, Stephen Irsik and Clarence Irsik (brothers). The five partners were involved in farming, ranching and the grain elevator business. Loren Doll is the only founder living today. Clarence Irsik sold his interest to the company in the 1980’s. The remaining four family segments still exist today in a structure that established ownership in each of the founder’s subsequent generations.
In the beginning in 1961, Ingalls Feed Yard was founded on property purchased from Norb Irsik located 3 miles west of Ingalls, Kansas, best described as more specifically the mid way point between Dodge City and Garden City in Southwest Kansas. The idea came about from several discussions within the founding group for about two years, but was solidified on a train to Kansas City to see a major league baseball game. Shortly thereafter, along with further discussions among the partners, the construction began on an open parcel of land where Ingalls Feed Yard is located today. The feed yard had an original capacity of 2,500 head. Significant hands on involvement came from the five partners in operating the initial business with all having the same voice. With no prior commercial cattle feeding experience, the partners hired a manager, John Oringderf to operate the beginning yard at Ingalls, who stayed through 1978.
The first decade of the company was primarily the expansion of this one feed yard along with a separate grower yard directly north of Ingalls. Eventually, the feed yard at Ingalls expanded to a one time feeding capacity of 40,000 head.
In 1968, Loren Doll moved to Ingalls Feed Yard and became Managing Partner.
During the second decade, another feeding location was built south of Cimarron, referred today as Gray County Feed Yard. The company also became involved with the grain elevator business by purchasing a facility in 1971 in Cimarron, where the company headquarters resides today. Both Fred and Loren Doll were well experienced in the grain business coming from the Wright, Kansas area. During this period, a grain facility was constructed at the site of Ingalls Feed Yard. An elevator in Syracuse, Kansas was also acquired, but sold in recent years. The combination of grain facilities involved with local grain procurement from farm producers and commercial feeding assets would provide a unique approach to the business that allowed for a consistent supply of quality feed ingredients. In 1975, a weekly newsletter began, which highlighted important market news and prices. The newsletter was sent to grain & cattle customers and after more than 40 years is still issued each week. With the move to more irrigation practices, ample supplies of alfalfa, corn and sorghum were produced in the area for cattle to consume. The company always sought modern technology such as steam flaking, which became the standard of the industry. As more supply of finished cattle became available in the High Plains, beef processors expanded into the area.
The third decade or during the 1980’s involved securing additional grain facilities as well as a commercial feed mill and grain elevator in Emporia, Kansas and another feed yard in Finney County called Beefland. A grain terminal in Hutchinson was also purchased, but the focus was switched towards primarily producer origination and overflow storage for the western elevators.
In April of 1989, Loren Doll decided to retire. Loren’s supportive nature, particularly to the efforts of the management team is present even today.
To replace Loren, the directors hired Irsik & Doll’s consulting nutritionist, Nathan Reese, to become the next executive in charge. Nathan was the first non-family professional to lead the company.
During the next decade, another feed yard in Finney County was acquired, which was referred to as Irsik & Doll Feed Yard. A nearby grain facility at Pierceville was acquired and expanded. Late in this period, a feed yard in Scott County was also purchased called Royal Beef. Nathan was the first to tackle the many obstacles of running a family owned business by an outside professional. Nathan announced his retirement after 10 years of loyal service. The company’s board, which included Norb Irsik & Loren Doll, hired John Petz in 1999, who remains as President & CEO of the Company today. Petz had spent 20+ years with a large international grain firm, which was also the largest cattle feeding entity in the U.S.
As the fourth decade concluded, Irsik & Doll became involved in two joint ventures. A train loading station and a liquid protein supplement plant, both located in Garden City. The company had reached a point where it needed to achieve many internal improvements due to size and maturity of the company and to better position for the next growth stage. People, operating systems, consistency, coordinated efforts, and bringing a more disciplined style within the company were all worked towards. A Strategic Marketing Plan was launched, bringing many of these changes forth and increased the business approach even stronger to a customer focus.
Into the last decade, the company expanded two of the existing feed yards by 20,000 head, purchased another yard in Stevens County called Sunbelt, and became involved in a third joint venture ownership in a feed yard in Reno County. A total one time feeding capacity of 215,000 head was reached. On the grain side of the business, a facility in Sublette was purchased taking the total storage capacity to 10 million bushels. The liquid feed joint venture company was also expanded to include a dry plant near Dodge City.
During the last decade the company improved many internal systems to allow for increased efficiency, developed the ability to measure and track accountability for results and use the full leverage of the company. People development has become strongly emphasized. Petz proudly boasts that he is only the third executive to run the company in over 55 years of business. This shows the stability of company management. Many of our people have invested a lifetime working for the company and these loyal individuals have contributed immensely to the growth and success.
Today, Irsik & Doll remains very much focused on a customer emphasis. The customer relationship is paramount for the future of the company, regardless if one is speaking of cattle feeding, grain operations, or the commercial feed mills. The company responds to what benefits the customer, and much is accomplished by adjusting specifically to each customer type by identifying what works well and providing focus on daily delivery of those individual pieces that make it work. Communication is a high priority in building the model that works, and success comes from interaction between key people within the organization and the customer in the course of handling transactions.
The joint ventures the company has become involved with only builds integration and value to the organization that again allows better service at lower cost for the customers.
A remarkable event being accomplished is the younger people joining the organization and having the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience of those that have been with the company for 30 – 40 years. You can see the bridge being formed to forward the company for the next 50 years. These energetic, technology oriented people are bringing ideas and excellent new customer development to the company.
The key success drivers of the company over the past 50 years has been the founders’ interest in being a conservative organization devoted to agriculture, while not compromising integrity. The reputation, financial stability, long-time customer base, shareholder retention of capital and a team of dedicated employees has contributed to the entire growth of the company and how the company will operate into the future.
By John M Petz, President/CEO