Western Milling dba O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling’s roots can be traced back to 1925. It was in this year that Otto H. Kruse, at the age of 17, went to work for the El Monte Grain Company as a laborer in the production and delivery of dairy and poultry feeds. When the El Monte Grain Company failed in 1929, Otto went to work for F.F. Booker Wholesale Hay and Grain in the same capacity. In 1935, at the time of Booker’s sudden death due to a tragic automobile accident, Otto Kruse was considered top man in the organization and was able to purchase and take over management of the Booker Company. At that time, it was the midst of the depression and Otto found that the Booker Company was on shaky financial ground. However, Otto was successful in restructuring the company and later renamed it O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling.
Throughout the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, O.H. Kruse steadily grew as the California agricultural industry developed. One of the keys to the company’s success was its ability to perceive and adjust to the changing commercial livestock markets. In the late 1950’s, when urban sprawl forced agricultural livestock populations to move east from Los Angeles and Orange counties to San Bernardino and Riverside counties, O.H. Kruse adapted accordingly. After graduating in 1962 from Kansas State University in Feed Science, Otto’s oldest son, Ronald Kruse, moved to the San Bernardino County and constructed a modern feed mill in Ontario. This mill was completed in 1963 and went into production immediately to serve the rapidly growing dairy industry in the nearby Chino Valley. For the next 30 years, the Ontario feed mill grew along with the Southern California dairy industry. By 1990, there were 400,000 producing dairy cows in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, making it by far the most concentrated area for milk production in the world. Producing over 60,000 tons of feed per month at its peak, the O.H. Kruse Ontario feed plant became the single largest commercial feed manufacturing facility in the United States.
In 1968, Ronald Kruse became the Chief Executive of the Company. In addition to perpetuating the company’s growth in the dairy feed business, he also found a good use for the original feed mill in El Monte. Due to its versatility, Ronald reasoned that the El Monte plant could be used to produce a complete line of sack feeds for horse owners, back yard farmers and show animal enthusiasts. He sought advice on the proper nutritional guidelines to feed various species and then worked hard to develop a brand name (“Perfection Feeds”) through superior service and consistent quality. The decision was made early on that O.H. Kruse would market their sack products through independent retail feed stores and would provide the stores with technical and sales support on an as needed basis.
In the late 1980’s, a third generation of the Kruse family entered the feed industry. After graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Ronald’s son, Kevin Kruse, was given the task of constructing a modern feed mill in the San Joaquin Valley. The Kruse family had determined that central California would see most of the future growth of the California dairy and poultry industries. The mill was built in the town of Pixley and was completed and operations underway by 1991. Due to its strategic location, the Pixley mill experienced rapid growth and by 1994, the mill was producing 60,000 tons of feed per month. As the dairies moved north, the Pixley plant quickly surpassed the Ontario plant in production. Kevin Kruse became President of the company in 1992 and eventually the company’s headquarters moved to the San Joaquin Valley.
By 1994, urbanization in Southern California was rapidly pushing dairy, beef and poultry producers out of the area. Even sack feed users were coming under heavy pressure and were unable to raise animals due to zoning regulations. With six family members working in the business in various capacities, the Kruse family grew concerned about the future of the feed industry. When a British firm came to the Kruse family and offered to buy the company at an attractive price and leave the management team in place, it was decided by the majority of the ownership to strike a deal. After several months of negotiations, the purchase was completed and O.H. Kruse fell under the ownership of Tate & Lyle Ltd., a multinational British corporation, dba PM Ag Products. For the next five years, the company operated under the Kruse banner with essentially the same management and personnel, including Kevin Kruse as the operating manager. However, in 2000, five years after the purchase and shortly after a change in management, Tate & Lyle decided to exit the feed business in the United States. Some members of the Kruse family wanted to buy their old feed business back at this time and tried to structure a repurchase of the company. Unfortunately, their efforts proved to be unsuccessful and the company was sold to JD Heiskell Co. of Tulare, California.
Early in 2000, the opportunity came to certain members of the Kruse family to purchase a former Kraft plant in Goshen, California. With the O.H. Kruse name owned by a competitor, the new company was named Western Milling LLC. Approximately a year and a half later, JD Heiskell opted to sell the sack feed business that they had purchased and offered to sell the O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling name along with the Perfection brand. Members of the Kruse family bought these assets and placed them under the operating care of Western Milling. Thus, seven years later “O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling”, the “Perfection Brand” trademark and the sack feed business were back in the ownership of the Kruse family. From the day that Western Milling opened for business, the company has experienced phenomenal growth. With the completion of the Famoso site in 2007, Western Milling now has four locations consisting of its headquarters in Goshen, with full production capabilities, a feed mill operation with commodity storage and mixing capabilities in Phoenix, a distribution and sack warehouse in Ontario, CA and finally its newest site in Famoso, which is set up to roll corn and process various commodities, including distillers grains, canola and cottonseed. Being one of the first feed manufacturers in the United States to use compartmented tankers for livestock feeds, the Company has always felt that trucking was an integral part of its business and Western Milling has carried on this tradition. Through its affiliate, OHK Transport, LLC, it currently has approximately 70 trucks on the road delivering feed to its customers. With production capacity and demand continually on the rise, the Kruse family has been undoubtedly successful in reestablishing themselves as a market share leader in the western United States.
As O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling gears up for the competitive environment that awaits in the future, we remain mindful of the core values and primary success factors that got us where we are today. O.H. Kruse is only as good as its people, which is its primary resource and asset. Our success evolved out of the beginnings which date back to 1935 and was based on working as one team then and will continue by working as one team as it goes forward into the future.
31120 West Street, Goshen, CA 93227
Phone: (559) 302-1050 • Toll Free: 800-SAY-KRUS • Fax: (877) 455-6314