Our 4th Generation: The Muenster Milling of the Future
Muenster has played a significant role in the lives of fourth generation brothers Mitch and Chad. Though they were both practically born and raised in Muenster, Texas, each tried their hand at vastly different occupations before committing to the family business.
What they didn’t realize was how much these outside tenures and experiences would help expand Muenster Milling.
Sales and marketing president Mitch originally had zero intention of joining the family business. With a penchant for sports, nutrition and fitness, he pursued these passions as soon as he got out of high school. After landing an internship in the sports medicine program at the University of North Texas, he was convinced he’d found his calling. However, as the hours increased, he eventually realized he was compromising the potential for a healthy work/life balance.
Soon he segued into life as a personal trainer. Though he learned a great deal in that position, he says the biggest take away was the realization that the food you put in your body is ultimately much more important than the exercises you do, or, as he puts it, “you can’t outrun your fork”.
Once he felt he had learned all he could in his time as a trainer, he thought about the pieces and parts he liked best about the role: working with people and nutrition. After some long discussions with his father, both agreed he might be a good fit for the Muenster sales team.
Fast forward five years after working in the field and spending more time with the company’s nutritionist and customers, Mitch successfully took over sales/marketing/product development at Muenster. By the time he’d hit his 6th year at the company, the company had maxed out its capacity and was experiencing major growth pains from a production standpoint.
Enter older brother Chad.
For the seven years prior, Chad had been charged with running some of the U.S.’ largest operations for ConAgra Foods. Over time, he, like many others in his industry, tired of working for a large corporation, and wanted to be a part of something with a purpose other than driving up shareholder value.
Thanks to his robust experience in Ag business, operations and facility management, within six months his help with processes and manufacturing efficiencies, had lead to a 35% capacity improvement. He began by adding an additional shift, bringing in key technology and improving Muenster’s buying power.
Under his leadership Muenster recently implemented a new HACCP program, and is a registered and FDA approved facility. As things continue to grow, Chad will be in charge of building new facilities and making all operations more sustainable.
We sat down with Mitch for a candid interview about what he sees for the future of Muenster under the direction of this 4th generation sibling team.
Q: What kind of growth have you seen at Muenster since you and Chad got involved?
A: From the time I started in 2007 we have grown by about 300%.
Q: What kind of growth do you hope to achieve in your tenure?
A: We hope to continue growing at our current pace of 15-20% per year. It enables us to continue growing, but at a pace we can keep up with. Our hopes for growth are that we can continue to grow, but within Muenster. While we have visions of becoming larger, our main vision is to develop new product lines that continue to address preventative health problems in pets.
Q: Are you trying to appeal to the same market you always have or trying to include a broader spectrum of customers?
A: Our focus is to develop foods that create a healthier animal by focusing on ingredients and recipes that reduce the risk of obesity, autoimmune diseases, and any other risk that comes with eating unhealthy foods. We believe a higher quality food that focuses on lower carbohydrates and starches will prevent many of the common ailments that affect the animals we serve. As far as the customers we hope to attract, our goal is to steer per owners away from economy priced foods and help them understand more about nutrition instead of basing their decisions solely on price. We believe the more nutritionally sound formulas will save that customer money in the long run by reducing ailments and avoiding costly vet bills by creating a healthier animal.
Q: What is/are the most important marker(s) of success for this 4th generation?
A: Our success is going to be measured by the number of animals we’re able to have a positive effect on, along with the positive effect we can have on our team members’ lives, and the lives of the pet owners we serve. If we can continue getting positive feedback from people using our product, and can cause the industry as a whole to make changes to create healthier foods, we’ll feel that we’re making positive changes in the industry.
Q: How else will you two contribute to the all-natural pet food brand?
A: As a more specialized manufacturer, we’re able to get ingredients that larger companies can’t, including the incorporation of healthy, low-carb, low-starch ingredients like coconut meal and coconut oil in our foods. We’ll also continue to drive innovation to animal foods other than just pets, and continue to analyze the process’s we use to make foods. If we can prove a new process makes sense and provides value, we’ll relentlessly pursue it.
Q: Where would you like the company to be once you hand it over to the 5th generation?
A: We’d like to have a business that’s grown substantially for several reasons. If we’ve grown, that means we’re doing something right. We’re helping more people, more animals, and making a positive difference in our communities and environment.
Ultimately, Muenster’s overall goal is to make a difference. Their #1 objective is to create a culture that encourages the entire team to constantly help provide a better/healthier product for pets. They want to make a difference in the lives of the people that work with them, as well as the people who buy their product.
Muenster isn’t worried about trends & fads, they simply intend to focus on the health of the animal and the customers they serve.