Top Ag Cooperative continues to expand in every direction. In 2020, the company acquired Terrayne in Venedy, and in May of 2021 they bought Weichert’s Seed Co. in Nashville. The expansion continued last week when they officially bought Oberbeck Grain Company. The grain storage facility was formerly owned by Bob and Luci Luitjohan. With the addition comes two new locations, one in Highland, and the other being in New Douglas, Illinois. Their Highland location holds roughly half a million bushels, while New Douglas holds 3.3 million, which is more than the Okawville location. Oberbeck has been in business for 98 years. It started out as a feed company with some grain activity, although nowadays it is strictly grain.
“It’s one of the highest respected facilities in the state, it has been for several decades,” said Top Ag General Manager Kevin Hartkemeyer. “We do a lot of things very similar. I think that’s what attracted them to us, they thought we were a really good fit.”
Hartkemeyer added there were a few other suitors in the running for the deal.
“Fortunately ours was selected,” Hartkemeyer said.
Hartkemeyer was first approached in early February, and the bids had to be submitted by Mid May.
“That’s when we found out we had been chosen. It’s been a lot of work since then, because it’s been less than two months since we found out we were going to purchase it. In today’s environment, with COVID and people working from home, it’s hard to even close on a house in two months, and the fact we were able to get it done this quickly is a compliment to all of the hard work of the people up there and here,” Hartkemeyer said. “The last two weeks it’s been lights on for a lot of hours both here and there.”
As mentioned before, Top Ag has been busy the last year and half with its previously mentioned acquisitions. Hartkemeyer does not view the expansion as a sense of urgency, but rather a process which has taken place over time.
“We have done strategic planning. We’ve identified key opportunities if they take place. What I’ve been doing over the last ten years is developing those relationships with the owners of those different companies,” Hartkeyemer said. “It seems like people think, why are they on a buying spree? But Terrayne came to us, Weichert’s came to us, and now it’s the same deal.”
In the grain business, volume can aid many things including bigger bids which allows companies to trade in larger quantities. Hartkeymer is also looking forward to the opportunity of taking on more business in a new area.
“It gets us into new trade territory. New Douglas is really getting up into a new country, especially for grain draw,” Hartkeymeyer said. “We’re hoping we can piggy back some agronomy business as things progress and we get to know those customers better. We do some work in that area now, but we’d like to have a stronger presence up there.”
In a competitive industry, Hartkeymeyer noted how important it is to take advantage of opportunities such as these.
“You have a lot of strong competitors, so when these private companies come out, we want to take a hard look at them. In business, if you’re not growing, you’re falling behind. There are a limited amount of opportunities in this area to grow.” Harktkemeyer said.
With advantages come challenges. Hartkemeyer believes loyalty and earning trust will be the biggest challenge out of the gates.
“Their customers are extremely loyal to that company and that family. They have a strong relationship and identity with the Oberbeck’s. We need to go in and earn their trust, so that will by far be our biggest challenge,” Hartkeymeyer said.
Top Ag is now up to ten locations, with Okawville being the headquarters. Other locations include Addieville, Venedy, St Libory, Mascoutah, Trenton, Pierron, Nashville, and the newly adjoined Highland and New Douglas facilities.