Change in pet diets brings new employer to region |

Change in pet diets brings new employer to region

John Seelmeyer

A significant shift in the way that consumers feed their pets is creating jobs in Silver Springs.

A processing facility launched by Cleaned Dried Processing Inc. dries tomato seeds and skins from California as well as potatoes and sugar beets from growers in Winnemucca and Idaho.

The dehydrated foodstuffs are sold to makers of pet foods and animal feeds.

Richard Erickson, the chief executive officer of the LaBudde Group, the Wisconsin company that owns Clean Dried Processing, says demand for dried vegetables is growing dramatically from pet-foods makers that are using less grain in their products.

Sales of grain-free pet foods have been increasing at a 28 percent annual clip, the research firm GfK Group reported late last year. The reason? Consumers want a more natural diet for their pets.

Suppliers such as Clean Dried Processing are scrambling to keep up with demand.

LaBudde, parent company of the Silver Springs operation, currently operates facilities in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa.

Those facilities, Erickson said, are running near full capacity, and LaBudde began scouting for West Coast locations for expansion.

Turned off by California’s regulatory environment, the management team led by Erickson began scouting locations in northern Nevada.

That search brought it to a long-vacant 143,000-square-foot industrial building on the east side of the Silver Springs Airport. The building housed a truss-manufacturing plant before the recession.

The building had remained vacant since 2009 and was slow to find a new use during the recession, says Brad Lancaster, a vice president of Miller Industrial Properties. Lancaster represented the property owner along with Andi Wilson and Brad Bonkowski of NAI Alliance Carson City. Mike Hoeck of NAI Alliance in Reno represented LaBudde.

Lancaster said some potential users of the industrial property also had misgivings about its rural location.

The location wasn’t an issue for LaBudde.

“The folks in Lyon County have been very helpful,” Erickson said.

Ten people were hired to bring the plant into operation, but the company is adding a second shift that will bring 10 more jobs to the region, said Erickson.

Northern Nevada Development Authority assisted the company as it won state incentives for economic development.

“This will be a big boost to the Silver Springs area,” said Rob Hooper, executive director of NNDA. “Not only will Clean Dried Processing be creating jobs, they will act as a catalyst for other companies to make the decision to move or expand to the area.”

The financing of the new plant includes a $1.6 million investment by Clean Dried Processing to purchase the building and equipment.

Meadows Bank provided a $4.9 million loan guaranteed by USDA Rural Development. Meadows Bank also provided a $1.2 million loan guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration for working capital.

Dried tomato pomace is produced at the new plant from the mixture of skins, pulps and seeds left over after tomatoes are processed into juice, ketchup or soup. It’s used by pet-food makers to add nutrition as well as a flavor that cats like.

Dried potatoes, meanwhile, provide vitamins and are particularly in demand for pet-food products for overweight pets.

Ten loads of potato products will arrive at the processing plant daily.

LaBudde Group, which is headquartered at Grafton, Wis., has a 107-year history of finding markets for agricultural byproducts. It got its start, Erickson said, converting waste grain at Milwaukee’s breweries into animal feed.