How Hanor Triumphs

A  three-pronged strategy of financial viability, production management and technical improvement has kept Hanor at the forefront of innovation. With more than 600 employees, operations in seven states, and current expansion to 93,000 sows (to be completed this winter), the company is preparing for a profitable future. It’s involvement in the Triumph Foods processing plants—as part of the second-largest pork operation in the U.S.—allows it to control more of the inherent variables in pork production.  
Financial viability is the first of the three prongs and is the foundation of the business. Three axioms include the ability to: maximize ownership and cash reserve, maintain low debt, and reduce fixed cost as possible by increasing ownership. When financial stress occurs, it means a company hasn’t followed the first two axioms and the latter is the death knell. At that point, assets are easy for the creditor to dispense (e.g. pig inventory versus land and buildings). 
“Hanor makes decisions based on facts,” explains R. Dean Boyd, technical director and senior nutritionist at Hanor. “It’s a company that from the beginning, believed it needed to have research capabilities embedded within its production system, so nutrition, management and health judgments could be made with knowledge instead of guessing,” says the 15-year veteran.
The production “prong” successfully integrates each area of expertise into a working system: animal care, reproduction, veterinary, feeding etc. Hanor normally builds rather than acquires operations so a facility does not impair the production methods used.   
The third prong, technical improvement, is not the foundation of a sustainable business, in the short term. However, in the long term, technical advances are important.
“Imagine if Apple simply perfected manufacturing and depended on publicly available knowledge to advance—how would it have remained competitive in the long term?” Boyd says. “Production methods must be correct; some approaches will have to be proven to be the best and others not.”
He says too often, companies will employ all-out production but might have practices that prevent improvement. For example, early-weaning technology is a method Hanor research found to be counterproductive to profit. 
A quest for excellence in the areas of production technology, nutrition, genetics and veterinary medicine has resulted in an efficient system that produces high quality pork.
This article was featured in the September issue of Farm Journal's Pork. Read the full profile by viewing the digital edition. Adapted for web by Sara Brown.