Jay Schumitsch knows a good opportunity when he sees one.
The vice president of Schumitsch Companies knew the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation (LCEDC) had programs to help existing businesses, so when he wanted to expand the locally owned third generation grain processing business, he went to Angie Close, executive director of the LCEDC.
“She (Close) got us set up with a low-interest loan to invest in the structure,” he said in an interview for the LCEDC Success Stories video series. “We invested all that money in the structure here so that we could expand. The return that we were supposed to get was to hire more employees and create good jobs here locally. We’ve done a tremendous job of that.”
That was about five years ago.
Since then, the company has grown from 11 employees to 21 full-time employees, and revenue has tripled.
“Without their help, we wouldn’t be as far as we are today,” Schumitsch said.
Located at 420 Wausau Road in Antigo, Schumitsch Companies produces and distributes sustainable agricultural products. It doesn’t handle corn or soybeans; rather, it focuses on rotational crops that help improve soil health and biodiversification. The company has been around since 1962.
“Around here, in Langlade County, we are big producers of seed potatoes, and in that rotation, they like to grow oats,” Schumitsch said. “It works really well in our cool climate.”
Common practices utilized by the company include under-seeding small grain crops and over-cropping.
“What we do here is a lot of grain processing, so we’re taking oats and basically turning them into oatmeal,” Schumitsch said. “We have a trucking division. We do a lot of small grain seed for farmers—oats, barley, cover crops, rye. We do some peanut processing as well.”
Schumitsch earned a bachelor’s degree at UW-Eau Claire and returned home in 2015, when he began to take over the business from his father.
Schumitsch Companies takes oats seriously.
It provides farmers with high-quality seed the company has specialized in since it opened its doors. Red Robin Seeds has been is premium product since 1986.
In 1990, the company began dehulling oats for the pet food industry. It is a first choice for many pet food companies due to competitive pricing and convenient shipping location.
Custom cleaning and packaging of grain is another major part of business operations.
Finally, in 2001, the company set up its own peanut roasting and cleaning facility. Today, it helps serve the pet food industry with freshly roasted and neatly bagged peanuts.
But, Schumitsch admits the company’s growth in recent years didn’t’ come without challenges.
“We went through a lot of growing pains,” he said. “It was hard to find really good help. Around here, our philosophy is to hire really good people, and we pay them very well. But, our biggest challenge really has been just finding and retaining really good help.”
Hiring quality employees has also been the company’s biggest accomplishment.
“Our greatest accomplishment has been assembling the team that we have today,” Schumitsch said. “We’ve got a group of really great employees out there. Moral is very high. We operate very efficiently. Like I said, we tripled the revenues with twice the workforce. “
Schumitsch said he has learned a lot during his years in the business and has received some sound advice to pass along to others. Setting goals and checking them periodically is key.
“As a company, every year, we look at what are we trying to accomplish over this next year to get to that next step,” he said.
“What I would share with other business owners is to continue to invest in your business, invest in your people. Reinvest in your business, and hire people that are smarter than you.”
For information on how businesses can benefit from LCEDC programs, contact Close at 715-623-5123 or email@example.com.