Vitakraft Sunseed strong as merger completed


WESTON – The sagging economy may have taken a bite out of the pet food business, with fewer pet owners
pampering their parrots and ferrets. But it isn’t keeping people from providing the basics for their
household pets – a trend that has Vitakraft Sunseed shipping out as much as 400,000 pounds a day of pet
"Our business remains strong," said Brent Weinmann, president of Vitakraft Sunseed located in
rural Washington Township.
"The spoiling is starting to go away," he said of the pet food industry. "But they are
still feeding them."
It’s that commitment to pets that spurred Vitakraft, headquartered in Germany, to acquire Sun Seed Co.
one year ago. The combined companies now offer more than 600 different pet products, employ 85 people at
the local plant, and ship from a new 24,000-square-foot warehouse.
"By the end of the year, we hope to bring in more production lines," Weinmann said, noting that
the merger will allow the combined companies to go further than they would have been able to on their
On Monday, with employees finishing a picnic lunch under big white tents, Weinmann and others celebrated
the merging of the companies and the opening of the new warehouse.
"It’s been a huge undertaking," he said, explaining that nearly 5,000 pallets of products had
to be moved in the last three weeks.
He noted the vast growth in the homegrown company.
"We started in 1981 in the back of a cattle barn," Weinmann said. Washington Township Trustee
Steve Powell referred to the local company as a "fascinating example of entrepreneurship." He
described how ingredients at one time were mixed by shovel. But now those ingredients come from all
around the world.
And now, the company ships out seven to 10 truckloads of pet products a day.
That represents a 10 percent increase in business since the company was acquired by Vitakraft a year ago.

"We’re very fortunate we’ve experienced sales growth," said Andy Messinger, chief executive
officer of Vitakraft Sunseed. "It’s been difficult economic times."
While Sun Seed was a relatively young company, Vitakraft has been in the pet food business for 170 years,
all under the same family in Germany.
"Vitakraft worldwide is a very big player in speciality pet foods," Messinger said.
And now that the merger is in operation, "We look forward to where Vitakraft Sunseed is going,"
he said.
Vitakraft is known for speciality items such as yogurt drops for guinea pigs, salami sticks for dogs and
berry glazed sticks for hamsters. Sun Seed is known for its variety of bird foods. Together, they are
capturing a larger share of the market and using the Wood County plant as a springboard for sales in
North and South America as well as Asia.
"It’s a big marketplace. People have a lot of pets," Messinger said. "They’ve got to eat,
much to our delight."
The variety of products are sold to several outlets like Petco, Petsmart and Meijer.
Congressman Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, praised the company Monday for reaching into the world market.

"Our competition is global today. Not just in our backyards, but 6,000 miles away," Latta said.

"Nobody has to tell anybody here how tough times have been economically," he said, explaining
his theory on business. "You keep what you’ve got. You grow what you’ve got. Then you go out and
get new businesses."
The merger has not only meant more products, but also about 10 more employees, including positions in
engineering, production and supervision. The company is also sending more work to Wood Lane employees,
who have been repacking pet products and growing test plots of uncommon seeds to package as pet food.

Meanwhile, it has also helped the Wood County Economic Development Commission meet its two goals of
cultivating homegrown business and reaching into the global marketplace.
Photo caption: Front page: Brent Weinmann, President and COO of Sun Seed Vitakraft, gives a tour of their
new warehouse to Rep. Bob Latta and Washington Township Trustee Steve Powell. (Aaron

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