minnwest: preserving history while influencing the future

MinnWest: Preserving History While Influencing the Future

January 12, 2021 Laura Orsten

Throughout our organization’s history, our leaders have balanced taking risks with being good stewards of our businesses and our people. The MinnWest Technology Campus, located in Willmar, Minnesota, is the perfect example of this.

The campus has a proud history as one of Minnesota’s oldest, state-owned and operated healthcare facilities. Originally constructed in 1912, the charming stucco buildings display architectural details in the Spanish Colonial and Renaissance styles, which were popular at the time.

At the height of its operations, this historic healthcare facility provided hundreds of jobs, cared for hundreds of patients and created a strong foundation for our local economy.  In 2004, the state began implementing changes to its healthcare delivery system that would eventually relocate or cut most of those jobs, leaving many of the buildings on campus empty and idle. Soon, the once-bustling campus was vacant and its future uncertain.

In 2005, as many were still grieving the loss of jobs and apparent waste of a once-flourishing facility, creative minds were at work. Behind the scenes, Life-Science Innovations and Nova-Tech Engineering leaders were busy discussing one of the most innovative, yet risky projects ever undertaken in our area’s business history. They began asking questions like…

Could this campus be given new life as a hub for business innovation?

Could the history of these majestic buildings be preserved and protected?

Could the cornerstone of our area’s economic stability be restored?

The answers?

Yes, yes and yes!

In 2006, Life-Science Innovations and Nova-Tech Engineering purchased the 100-acre property, which is now called the MinnWest Technology Campus.  Since the purchase, significant effort and investment has gone into to renovating the campus to attract other local area businesses, with the hopes of continuing to expand. Currently, over 680 employees work on the MinnWest campus, employed by companies in agriculture, technology, and more. Maintaining the buildings built over a century ago while taking risks and investing in the future of the campus, our organization and the community is a great example of Stewardship.


Christmas Turkeys

January 12, 2021 Laura Orsten

An important aspect of Stewardship is giving back to employees. Being that we are in the turkey industry, one way we do that is by providing our employees with a free turkey for Christmas. Now you may wonder, why Christmas and not Thanksgiving? Isn’t Thanksgiving the turkey holiday? First, every holiday is a turkey holiday for us. Second, we’re pretty busy around Thanksgiving so Christmas it is!

On a serious note, our organization has been donating turkeys for many years. It all started back in 1988 with our original processing plant, Heartland Foods Co. Our owners wanted to recognize employees by giving them one of our turkeys for Christmas, and 30 years later that tradition continues. Employees are given the option to keep their turkey or donate it. If donated, it is brought to the local food shelf on their behalf. It’s a great way for both the company and employees to give back!

It’s not a monumental action to provide a turkey around the holidays, but we believe it’s the little things matter.

75 Years

November 30, 2020 Laura Orsten

It’s Willmar Poultry Group’s 75th Anniversary! As we celebrate this momentous milestone, we have made it our mission to align our 75th anniversary activities with 5 of our Core Values: Stewardship, Trustworthiness, Excellence, Innovation, and Employee Wellbeing. 

The purpose of this blog and all posts going forward through the remainder of our 75th year is to highlight our value of Stewardship. Our definition of stewardship is, “Our investment of time, talent, and treasure will do great things in the long run. We make decisions based on our responsibility to our employees, our customers, our stakeholders and our community.” Some of the ways that we plan on showing Stewardship include: 

  • We make innovative decisions for the long-term rather than short-term gains 
  • We meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability/success of future generations
  • We have the will to persevere; don’t give up, don’t give in, there’s always a solution
  • We are committed to the success of the company above our own individual interests 
  • We are engaged in fostering a strengths-based servant leadership culture in all of our partnerships 

This 75th year, we have committed to highlighting various acts of stewardship – both company and employee facing. Some examples would be a business decision that will help keep our organization around for generations to come, involvement and giving back to our community, investing in our employees and more. Stay tuned for more to come! We hope you follow along with us!

Farm Service Elevator North Load Out

November 30, 2020 Laura Orsten

We know that in order to be good stewards of our company, we must make upgrades and invest in our facilities, our people, and technology. The perfect example of this has recently been on full display at our feed mill, Farm Service Elevator, with replacing their north load out in 2019!

The north load out was in need of repair, so the leaders of FSE took the opportunity to make improvements. The new technology gives us the capability to provide an increased number of diets by blending high protein and low protein rations. This new addition helps our customers and the end consumer. Here’s how:

  1. Load out time for trucks is decreased from 15 minutes to 5 minutes = increased efficiency for the mill to serve our customers better.
  2. Increased commercial turkey feed diets from 8 to 16 and slowly stepping down protein levels through feed blending = better cost for our customers and better flock performance –> poultry is kept at an affordable price for the end consumer!

Farm Service Elevator opened its doors in 1954 and the current feed milling facility has existed since the 1980’s. Farm Service Elevator has shown our values of stewardship and innovation through this new load out system, becoming one of the first independent feed milling facilities in the country to use this groundbreaking technology that will be around for decades to come. Congratulations to the team at Farm Service Elevator!

Read more about it in the West Central Tribune here!