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Springville animal feed company acquired by national competitor

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A century-old Springville animal feed dealer that has been family owned since its founding in 1911 has been acquired by a subsidiary of a large California rival.

Gold Star Feed & Grain, a New York State-focused division of Tulare, Calif.-based J.D. Heiskell & Co., purchased the business and assets of Gramco Inc., a retail and wholesale distributor in southern Erie County that focuses on custom dairy feed.

The companies did not announce the deal, and Gramco's president and CEO, Robert Mattison, declined to reveal the full purchase price. However, Gold Star paid $4.5 million for Gramco's Springville facilities at 299 Waverly St., according to the deed filed in the Erie County Clerk's Office. Mattison said Gramco's remaining corporate entity will be wound down over the next year or so.

Mattison, who has worked for the company for 49 years, said he will stay on for a short while to help with the transition, but is otherwise ready to retire.

"I was just tired. It was time," he said. "I'm very happy with it, and very comfortable with it."

Mattison said he's been "shopping the company for a couple of years," but "just had to match the people up with the same goal."

He said some of the big companies he considered had "wanted to do a clean sweep, throw everybody out, and start over again," but he wasn't interested in that, preferring a "family atmosphere." He focused on Gold Star about a year ago, and negotiated the deal, which closed on Aug. 1.

"It’s a great acquisition for them and a great sale for me," Mattison said. "I’d like to see them go to the next level. There’s a lot of possibilities."

Gramco uses corn, soy, wheat and bean products from Western New York and Southern Ontario to make feed for farm animals.

Gramco built a feed mill in July 2001, and had 17 trucks in its fleet, delivering to customers within 150 miles of Springville. At one time, Gramco had six other feed mills, and it had 37 employees at its peak.

"We did a great job with what we did, but they've got bigger resources," he said, citing the larger company's ability to hedge commodity prices. "I never had the resources available to do that."

Heiskell, founded in 1886, is a privately held grain, commodity trading and livestock feed producer, which trades grains throughout the United States and into Mexico, China and other East Asian countries. It's the country's No. 4 feed manufacturing company by volume, after expanding sharply since 2000.


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