In 1990 the Coulthard family bought a well-seasoned feed mill in Shannon, IL, named it Eastland Feed and Grain, and opened the doors for business. We started with a staff of four people and one truck. We now have five locations including Shannon, Savanna, Chadwick, Darlington, WI, and Monroe, WI. As a result of our numerous expansions, we have grown to become a modern mill and grain elevator serving the tri-state region in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
During the 1990’s, our producers experienced record high and record low prices for all farm products. Not wanting to miss out on the excitement, we started a modest growth plan. When our producers were successful, so were we. Likewise, when our producers struggled, we did too. We repaired and replaced a lot of equipment, trucks, and duct tape in those early years! As our children grew, they became integral parts of the operation.
In 2000, a decision was made to increase our grain merchandising program. Don Vormezeele, our first full time grain merchandiser, started trading for local farmers into local markets. That has grown to include some “not so local” farmers into some “not so local” markets. After adding more merchandisers to our group, we now have over 100 years of grain-trade experience: we understand hedging, basis, spreads, and freight. We are comfortable working with producers of any size with a variety of needs. In the grain business, we can handle the grain for you or simply help you handle your own. Our staff members are dedicated and here to help you. They will either know the answer to your questions or have someone they work with that does.
In 2001 we started a metal shop for our own fabrication and repair operated by our son Steve and long-term employee, Mike Sweitzer. When farmers began to bring in their equipment for repair, Eastland Fabrication was born. A new shop was constructed near Lanark in 2003. This operation has grown into a separate company with fabrication, welding, and repair of any and all farm equipment while also serving commercial and industrial customers.
In 2003 we purchased Daco Laboratories’ eastern division and increased our service staff and customer footprint. Kevin Toomsen and Lyle Greenfield, whom many of you know, have become important parts of this business. This acquisition allowed for a shift into more premix/basemix formulations. More importantly we were able to glean from 30 years of formulation experience from the Daco/Vetway line.
While running at maximum capacity in 2005, the decision was made to expand the feed mill. The new mill addition gave us an extra 30 tons per hour of mixing capability while increasing mixing accuracy and decreasing loading and unloading times. This also allowed us to buy more ingredients in bulk, increase our purchasing capability, and decrease cost to producers.
In 2006 Miller’s Mill was added to the fold and now offers feed and other farm products to the Chadwick area. Larry and Sandy Miller have operated Miller’s Mill for over 20 years, after taking over from Larry’s father who had owned the mill since 1949.
In 2009 we started construction of Lost River, a grain facility here in Shannon. This facility is set up with an 1,800 bushel quick dump pit and three 425,000 bushel bins. At harvest we can get a semi on and off the property in six minutes. This additional storage allows us plenty of capacity to feed our mill and other "just in time" markets.
Our 2011 construction included the beginning of Area 51, located south of Hanover on the Savanna Army Depot property. Area 51 is operated as a country elevator. We currently have 875,000 bushels of space at Area 51 to handle wet corn, dry corn, beans and wheat. We can handle all your local unload needs, along with merchandising into other markets. We offer a variety of different contract types to meet your marketing goals. Bruce Radke is always available and ready to key customers in on current market grain prices.
We also have an office located in Darlington, WI. where Brent Sandahl handles a wide variety of tasks. He is able to offer HTA’s, cash and basis contracts, and other advanced marketing strategies. He sells into the ethanol, rail and river markets in Southwest WI, Northern IL, and Eastern IA. In 2012, Eastland Commodities was created as a separate brokerage firm to offer hedging and trading services. Brent works one-on-one with grain and livestock producers throughout the Midwest as a marketing consultant. He is also a licensed IB and trades a wide variety of commodities that are traded on US exchanges.
In 2013 we constructed a new truck shop with a semi-length wash bay with disinfectant capabilities. The shop allows us to repair more of our own trucks, as to keep freight costs in check. The wash bay helps reduce the biosecurity issues with bird flu/PEDV and tomorrow’s new disease.
In the last couple of years, we have made a few more additions; like the commodity shed that has helped tremendously when it comes to volume bulk purchases, or the robot that has helped with labor efficiency and reducing bagging delays when it comes to the bagging chores in the mill. Of course it is all helped by some custom manufactured equipment from our sister company - Eastland Fabrication.
In 2017 the doors officially opened at our newest feed mill, located in Monroe, WI. This mill, duly named Honey Creek, feeds the livestock base of Southern Wisconsin. Honey Creek has a total of 58 overhead tanks. Of those 58 tanks, 20+ contain mixed feeds and the other 30+ are used as ingredient bins. We also have an additional 150 ingredients stocked on site. As our dairy business has centralized around the Monroe area, Honey Creek has decreased freight to the farm while being able to provide more services to producers in that area. In 2019 we found ourselves out of milling capacity, and added another roller grinder that is run by three 60 HP motors.
In 2018 we purchased the old “Caseys” in Shannon and transformed it into a pack and ship warehouse for the “Great Wall” of Rescue. This is an extracurricular activity we take great pride in participating in. The “Great Wall” is a combination of modern design and old-school tough. Using input from family and friends, we have designed what is the first thing firefighters ask for when someone is trapped in grain – the “Great Wall” rescue tool! Kirsten Kniss handles the sales and service for this rescue tool. We have active sales across America’s grain belt, Canada and overseas. Having my sons and grandchildren help pack and ship this product makes it real when we receive notice that it was used to free three farmers in Alabama, the young girl in Canada, and even the farmer that was just one county over from us.
We have effectively increased our capacity for ingredients, manufacturing, and delivery every year since we opened the doors. In 1990 we had storage for 150,000 bushels of grain and manufactured about 30 tons of feed a day. Currently we have over 2,700,000 bushels of grain storage and manufacture about 100 tons of feed each hour. More tons thru the door mean a lower cost to the customer.
We are a family operation where our son Jeremy handles purchasing and selling non hedgeables and our son Adam manages Monroe’s Honey Creek Feed Mill along with his accounting chores. We call on our son Steve when something needs to be welded, repaired, or fabricated at one of our five locations. My wife Kathy handles payables and my daughter-in-law Stacy handles HR and payroll. Add in some more father-in-laws, brother-in-laws and cousins and you tend to see a lot of the same people at Christmas that you do at work. It seems that after a bit, those that aren't connected by genetics or matrimony become part of the family, too.
We are always going, always growing, always “Helping Farmers Feed the World”.
We are Eastland Feed and Grain, Inc.
Updated: January 2020