LUVERNE, Minn. — A southwest Minnesota company is using a revolutionary new technology to bring a different kind of livestock flooring slate to the agricultural industry.
Midwest Dry Cast, located in Luverne, is the only manufacturer in the United States that produces a five-inch concrete slat and beams for use inside hog barns through a dry cast process, instead of the traditional wet cast method.
“We’ve got a thicker slat than anybody else in the industry has, made out of dry cast, which is a really super strong ultra-high performance concrete,” said manger Aaron Waldner.
Waldner said years of research throughout the U.S. and Europe went into developing this new formulation. It has been tested in the elements of a hog facility and produced positive results in the areas of durability, strength and consistency. Waldner said their engineering also sets them apart because they construct the slats to have a high load rating.
“So, we don’t go thinner in our concrete, we don’t go thinner in our rebar, but we build a slat that our customers are confident that they can send their families and their livelihood, and their animals are walking on top of it that it’s guaranteed to hold their weight,” he said.
Midwest Dry Cast has 14 full-time employees and chose Luverne to locate due to its strong agricultural base and a good workforce. Waldner said the location was also close to their aggregates, which are only 10 to 15 miles away. Plus, Waldner said they are in the sweet spot of their distribution area, which is a 250-mile radius from Luverne. With the weight of concrete, he said shipping farther than that becomes cost prohibitive.
Waldner said they invested in equipment from France because of the automation and repeatability of the system. It automatically adjusts to the environment and the weather and turns out a consistent product. They also use a hot-steam process to finish the slats and slow down the deterioration over many years.
“Every slat that gets pushed out of here has a date stamp on it. And we will be able to track it exactly back to the date, to the mix design, to the moisture that that slat was made with,” he said.
“We’ve been able to absorb it as much as possible. Obviously, it’s impossible to do all of it. Our biggest price increases this last year has been rebar,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed sales for Midwest Dry Cast, like most businesses. However, Waldner said they will more than make up for it this year, and they are on an aggressive growth plan.
“Since we started, we pretty much doubled our output the first two years, and we’re looking at quadrupling it this year with everything going on in the ag market,” he said.
Up until recently, the hog industry was in expansion mode. But with the disease issues, the U.S. herd is contracting. In response, Waldner said they are also involved in remodeling projects so hog producers can get another 20 years of life out of a barn. They are also looking to diversify into non-agricultural products.
Midwest Dry Slat will be exhibiting their products at this year’s World Pork Expo, June 9-11 in Des Moines, Iowa.