Rio Nutrition:The Road Less Traveled

Cattlemen spend a lot of time looking at their input costs, and rightly so. These costs can become so daunting, however, that the net result is obscured: the output performance. This is the message that Trevor Greenfield, owner of Rio Nutrition located near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, is heralding. “It’s got to be about both — input costs and output performance — there needs to be a balance.

“As an old Rocky Mountain rancher said, ‘You will never save enough money to get rich.’ The output performance is really where ranchers can impact their bottom line, in terms of real things like breed-up, calf health, weight gains and better utilization of forages. “In order to achieve this performance, cattle need to have a solid health status and a sound nutritional foundation,” notes Greenfield, “And we have the tools to help get this done.”Rio Nutrition serves customers across North America, especially focused in the ranching areas of US and Canada. Rio Nutrition offers a full range of lick tubs (Riomax) and bagged loose minerals (Riogrande): highly concentrated with a low consumption and a strong focus on improving digestion. They deliver a combination of low input costs and greater output performance. In other words, more bang for your buck. . . and a healthier bottom line.

The History
Robert Frost in his widely acclaimed poem “The Road Not Taken,” wrote the following lines: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by.” That is exactly the road that Greenfield has taken with RioNutrition. “Originally, we were just like any other dealer, selling antibiotics, feed medications and vaccines to producers around our area. It was simply more of the same old. . . .”
That bothered Greenfield, because he wanted his company to be more than just another ‘me-too’. “Instead of selling a product, I wanted to become a partner to the livestock industry.”However, 12 years ago that was no more than a dream. “We started with nothing. We were small, very small. I started the business in a one-car garage and that is nothing to brag about,” he adds.I still remember sitting in that garage looking out at the corn field beside our property. I was frustrated. I wanted change; I wanted to get on the same side of the fence as the rancher. As I gazed out the door, my mind went back to my high school days, and I remembered my interest in human digestion. It was like a light came on. I looked over that field, which now seemed vibrant and full of life, and thought there had to be a way. . . maximizing digestion. . . helping ranchers get more out of their existing resources. . . this was the way I could bring value to the cattle industry. It was as if a whole new world had opened up to me.”

That became Greenfield’s the road less traveled, and as Frost wrote in 1920, “I took the one less traveled by,and that has made all the difference.”On that day they became more than just a dealership. Rio Nutrition had started on a journey that they are still on today — a journey that has made an impression on countless ranching operations across North America. What started as a single digestion ingredient in Rio Nutrition’s recipes has evolved into a 16-component powerhouse, including yeast, enzymes and probiotics.

By 2004, Duane Paskewitz became a partner, and brought with him more than 25 years of expertise in the livestock industry. Over the past 10 years, Greenfield says he, Paskewitz and their employees have worked hard to make a difference. “We have worked to become a resource and a partner to our customers. . . real people helping real people. . . and that has made all of the difference!”
“Our job,” Greenfield explains, “is understanding ranchers. Understanding their goals, what they want to achieve, and how. Then we determine what we can do to help them. It’s so simple really, yet so widely overlooked in the industry.” From there, Greenfield explains how the thing has grown: “I can’t describe what word-of-mouth has done for us. Going from a small 15 mile radius trade area to nation-wide, as well as Canada – it’s spread like wildfire.”

What Producers Say
Rio Nutrition provides cutting-edge nutrition products to the cow-calf industry, as well as backgrounders and yearling operations. Greenfield says, “We believe, that in our customers’ best interests, the most cost-effective route is to use highly concentrated supplements — coupled with low consumption. This delivers you a cost-to-feed that is far less than the ‘cheap’ upfront products. Cost-to-feed or cost per cow per year is where the rubber meets the road. Upfront costs mean nothing until you know how long the product will last and what it will do for you.”

• A rancher from Montana gives his perspective: “That’s what I tell people, you guys will follow up on consumption and make sure it works. . . you asked me once if it was annoying — no way — I like it. . . helps me keep track of everything. . . nowadays, salesmen are usually pretty good up front until you buy from them. . . then they drop you like a rock!”
• From Wyoming a cattlemen comes forward with his experience: “If [Rio] say it’s going to cost 13 cents — it will cost you 13 cents”
• A South Dakota Rancher who has seen the benefits from the concentrated, low consumption tub explains the concept with his own twist, “I love telling people I feed the cheapest tub in America. It costs $275!”

The Partnership
To further emphasize this partnership, Rio Nutrition offers more than just a supplement. “For us, the sale is not the end of the road, it’s the beginning. We have a follow-up program called ‘aftercare,’ which is a free service. Our aftercare team will follow up to discuss delivery, placement of the tubs or mineral, and ensure consumption stays on track. We don’t micromanage — but we are hands-on.” Greenfield adds. “It might seem old-fashioned, but our customers love it!”Greenfield goes on to say, “Risk is a big enough factor in ranching — as a rule — so we eliminate it for our customers wherever we can. The CostGuard™ program provides a guarantee on the consumption of the tubs, which actually puts a cap or a ceiling on your cost. So many ranchers have had trouble with over-consumption on other brands of tubs. Not so with Riomax.” In the unlikely event of over consumption, you’re covered. The CostGuard Program will compensate any over consumption in the form of free product.
In addition to that, Rio Nutrition offers ranch-direct delivery. They have trucks delivering their feed out west almost every week of the year. According to Greenfield, “Our LocalShip Program offers free ranch-direct delivery anywhere in the continental United States and Canada. We will deliver multiple loads, full loads, part loads — all the way down to just three ton — right onto your ranch. You don’t have to run into town, it comes to you!”
Rio Nutrition is well-known. “We believe in getting out onto ranches and meeting with people, to make sure we are listening to our customers. We are not the kind of company that knocks on your door every week but we are out in the country and our customers feel it’s important to put a face to the name — and we agree.” To see which trade shows we are attending this year visit our website (www.rionutrition.net) and look under the “contact” tab. Make a point of stopping by to visit with these friendly folks, you’ll be glad you did!

The Future
Change is always occurring, and Greenfield believes in not standing still. “Currently our products contain no antibiotics, ionophores or hormones. Not even urea. All of our products are all natural, and are approved for most all-natural programs.” Even so, Rio Nutrition is currently working on going to the next step, as the public becomes more aware of sustainable agriculture. “In every area of the business, we are committed to continuous improvement,” says Paskewitz. “We have to do the right thing by our customers and the consumer.”“This is not rocket science,” Greenfield comments. “It is simply taking care of ranchers, helping them with their challenges and doing it cost-effectively. Our commitment runs deep. From our products to our service to our people — everything. It’s a commitment to the rancher that stemmed from a vision in a one-car garage, where the journey originally started.”