PET Food Processing - December 2020 - 12

PLANT PROFILE

TWO KIDS
WITH A CADILLAC
IN A CORNFIELD
Barrett Petfood Innovations is a family affair on track to
produce 100 million lbs of pet food annually.
By Jennifer Semple | jsemple@sosland.com

Co-directors and
siblings, Sarah Barrett
Reiner and Tom
Barrett, currently
employ 250 people
between the two BPI
processing facilities in
rural Minnesota.
Photos by Adam Kennedy Photography

12

O

Once siblings Sarah Barrett Reiner and Tom Barrett
learned the used twin-screw extruder their father, Mike,
had purchased to make organic fertilizer for golf courses
was better at making premium pet food, their course
was set. Both Sarah and Tom were in their early twenties when their father asked them to help with the family
business in Brainerd, Minn. At that time - around 2007
- the family had one manufacturing facility built on the
family's 2,000-acre farm and they were making extruded
fertilizer with moderate success.
When Mike purchased the used equipment to manufacture fertilizer, he acquired a Wenger TX144 twin-screw
extruder. Sarah, who studied agricultural engineering in
college prior to returning to Brainerd to help her father
with his new fertilizer venture, attended a Wenger training
session in Sabetha, Kan., and learned that the equipment
her family had was designed for pet food and human food
manufacturing. At that point, it seems as though the pet
food manufacturing industry found the Barrett family
rather than the other way around, and Barrett Petfood
Innovations (BPI) was born.
Tom joined his sister in the pet food business in 2009
and both Sarah and Tom credit much of their success to
key mentors in the pet food industry who shared their
knowledge and graciously helped them learn how best
to use the equipment they had. Tom said their " aha moment " when they realized the vast potential of the pet
food market was when they attended their first Global
Pet Expo. Visiting that show for the very first time
helped them meet key mentors who have continued to
guide them along their journey.
" We challenged ourselves right from the beginning to
make high-end product, " Tom said. " Mostly because of

PET FOOD PROCESSING | December 2020 | www.petfoodprocessing.net

the customer base. They would find out that these kids
in Minnesota have a twin-screw and they would give us
a call. Being so young, we were eager to soak up all that
we could learn. "
Sarah added, " We got a lot of advice based on the
equipment we had. We said no to nothing and that
taught us a lot. "
Business was not easy in the beginning but together
the family found a path. Around 2010 they were very
close to being out of business but were able to refinance
and started to work with some promising customers.
Between 2010 and 2011, they went from running production two days a month to running one shift a day,
four days a week. The first pet product they produced
was bird food, which they still manufacture today and
accounts for about 5% of their business. They proudly
point out they are still manufacturing products for their
very first customer.
" I think our biggest success has been just taking all of
the information that we learned from every different person that came through this facility, which would be hundreds over the last 10 years, and applying it to make us
better, " Tom said. " Changing and improving to meet our
customers' needs has been one thing that sets us apart. "
Both Sarah and Tom are heavily involved in the daily
operations and each can run any area of the plant. Sarah
was the first extruder operator for BPI and the lead boiler operator. Both she and Tom wear multiple hats.
" We are proud of the fact that we own the company and
I could go run the meat room today, Sarah could run our
mill, " Tom said. " We know every piece of moving equipment in the facility and probably understand the equipment and the operation of our plants better than any CEO


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PET Food Processing - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PET Food Processing - December 2020

PET Food Processing - December 2020 - 1
PET Food Processing - December 2020 - 1
PET Food Processing - December 2020 - 2
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http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_10_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2020_03_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_10_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2019_03_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_12_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_09_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_06_01
http://digital.petfoodprocessing.net/sosland/pfp/2018_03_01
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