October is National Pork Month —
Before he ever went to work in the feed industry, Randel Raub studied animal science. A lot. Finding nutritional physiology particularly interesting, he earned his Ph.D. in animal science and went on to teach the subject for 12 years at Kansas State University. And then he made a big decision: he left academia to direct research and product development for Purina Mills in Missouri.
“My (faculty) peers said I was lured away to the dark side, or industry, but it was quite enlightening for me,” Raub says. “I think faculty would be well-served to spend a few years in industry before they got behind a research bench, or stepped foot in front of a classroom, that’s my opinion.”
Seventeen years and two feed companies later, Raub branched out on his own to start a product development and consulting business, which he ran for three years. But then he heard about an opportunity to join Kent Nutrition Group – and even though he didn’t think he was interested in going back to the feed industry, he was willing to explore the offer simply “because it was Kent.”
“My whole time in the feed industry, I’ve never heard anyone say a disparaging word about Kent. That’s something,” Raub says. “Kent has always had a wonderful reputation in the industry and with their customers.”
He joined KNG in May of this year, in the middle of a pandemic, and has already appreciated the breadth and scope of the company’s commitment to research. On the animal side, the research farm is invaluable, he says, because there are so few of them left these days. Being able to formulate and test ingredients in a real-world environment is critical to Kent’s reputation.
“Producers can have real peace of mind knowing that we feed our pigs before we recommend what they should feed their pigs,” Raub says. “It is absolutely an added value that gives us a competitive advantage.”
But Raub points to other research opportunities on the human side of the business that make KNG unique – such as the Grain Processing Corporation and Precision Foods Group. Simply having access to additional resources positions KNG to facilitate research quickly, which can be a huge differentiator for customers.
“You have to be able to adapt, and be flexible and nimble,” Raub says. “In product development, there’s no crystal ball to tell you what the next big thing is going to be. So you have to be ready to respond rapidly to an ever-changing environment.”
Randel Raub and his wife, Elizabeth, have two grown children and live in Muscatine, Iowa. He enjoys fishing, traveling and tending to his horses.