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Scratch and Peck: Seeding a stronger supply chain

“On the discovery call, I could tell right away that our team leader was fantastic,” says CEO Rich Fowles. “He knew how to drill down and identify exactly what we were looking for.”

Based in Burlington, Washington, Scratch and Peck Feeds LLC produces organic poultry and livestock feeds. In 2020 the company entered the System for Integrated GrowthSM (SIG) program to get help improving supply chain efficiencies. Other growth issues were expanding its presence in retail stores and adding a second manufacturing facility. Below, CEO Rich Fowles discusses the engagement.

“On the discovery call, I could tell right away that our team leader was fantastic,” says Fowles. “He knew how to drill down and identify exactly what we were looking for.”

 Gearing up for geographic expansion — Scratch & Peck has a digital presence in all 50 states through Amazon and Chewy, an online pet supply retailer. Yet brick-and-mortar stores carrying its products are primarily regional with no locations east of Colorado. The company was considering a secondary manufacturing site, but finding the right location was critical due to complexities in sourcing grains for its products.

A premium brand, Scratch and Peck has stringent requirements for raw materials, Fowles explains. This includes needing less than 2% dockage (foreign materials, such as stems or other seeds) and a high percentage of protein (at least 14%). Thus, a secondary manufacturing site needed to be near organic farms with high standards.

Among deliverables, a SIG specialist who is an expert in geographic information systems produced maps that pinpointed sweet spots for potential manufacturing sites. These maps factored in the location of organic farms and feed mills, along with detailed information on consumer demographics.

Greater insights into customer base — Using Tapestry segmentation, the SIG specialist analyzed Scratch and Peck’s online customer base to highlight groups that shared demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. “The results were fascinating,” Fowles says. “Coming into this, I thought most of our customers were backyard farmers and homesteaders. Yet we discovered that our largest group of online consumers were the “Top Tier,” which is the wealthiest group of consumers in the United States.” In response, Scratch and Peck’s marketing team has changed its approach to appeal to that consumer segment. New marketing initiatives include advertising on Amazon for the first time and creating a series of YouTube videos called “The Feed.”

Supply chain issues — Another SIG specialist helped Scratch and Peck evaluate its supply chain processes and compare them with industry best practices. As a result, Fowles reorganized responsibilities among senior management — and recruited a new supply-chain director from the Midwest who has extensive experience in manufacturing and automation. “Even early on, we could tell he was a home-run hire,” Fowles says.

Getting the right supply chain expertise was critical as Scratch and Peck gears up the launch of a new product — a pellet with bug protein, which is a hot commodity in animal feed. “We’ll have the first organic, non-GMO-verified bug protein pellet in the marketplace, and early testing has indicated a phenomenal response from customers,” Fowles says.

Looking back at the SIG engagement, Fowles says he felt a real connection with the SIG team: “Our team leader worked hard to first determine our needs and then bring on people with the right level of expertise to help us. We addressed issues that were tough and will make a significant and positive long-term impact on the business.”

Indeed, Scratch and Peck ended 2020 with revenue being 30% higher than 2019. On the heels of this impressive increase, Fowles anticipates a 20% increase in 2021.

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