Willmar Poultry, Aviagen establish new turkey poult supplier

Willmar Poultry

WILLMAR — Willmar Poultry/Ag Forte has merged with Valley of the Moon Commercial Poults and is set to establish a new commercial turkey poult company called Select Genetics.

“The focus of Select Genetics will be to deliver the best quality genetics to the turkey industry, which will allow our industry to best compete against other animal proteins,” said Rick Vanderspek, president and chief operations officer of Select Genetics, in a news release announcing the venture. Vanderspek is also the president of Willmar Poultry/Ag Forte.

Select Genetics will be headquartered in Willmar. A new single state hatchery is planned for construction in Terre Haute, Indiana, with completion in spring 2018.

“Investments will be made to improve and upgrade the existing farms and hatcheries,” Vanderspek said.

Aviagen Group, which is headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama, will be the majority owner of Select Genetics. The new turkey supplier will continue to execute and honor the agreements and obligations of both Willmar Poultry and Valley of the Moon Commercial Poults and their customers, according to the news release.

Jihad Douglas will be the chief executive officer for Select Genetics. Douglas is also the president of Aviagen.

“Recent industry events accelerated Aviagen’s vision regarding our genetic supply chain. We are very excited about this new venture and the opportunity to combine our innovative companies,” Douglas said in the news release.

In 2011, Valley of the Moon, as part of Aviagen, built a state-of-the-art hatchery in Osceola, Iowa. The hatchery has the capacity to set 50 million eggs per year and hatch about 800,000 turkeys per week. The company also has farms and infrastructure in several other states.

The merger with Willmar Poultry/Ag Forte will allow the business to expand even further.

“We now need to expand our distribution channel to meet the growing demand for Nicholas turkeys through the United States. The Willmar and Ag Forte assets in Virginia, Ohio, Missouri and Minnesota complement our infrastructure in North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa, which allows us to reach our goals faster and more efficiently,” Douglas said.

Willmar Poultry Company was established in 1945 and grew into Ag Forte in 2000, with hatcheries in Missouri, Virginia, Ohio and Minnesota. The company’s headquarters are located on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar.

“Select Genetics is positioned to deliver added value to our customers and to build on the relationship that George Nicholas began with the Huisinga and Norling families over 50 years ago,” said Douglas.

West Central Tribune by Shelby Lindrud

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