If you’ve picked up a program at a major sporting event, subscribed to an agriculture magazine, or used a workbook while studying, chances are good that Midstates Group printed it right here in north central South Dakota. This business has clients that reach coast-to-coast and span everything from professional sports to catalogs, agriculture parts books to alternative health publications. When we say ‘read all about it,’ you probably already have.
Midstates started as The Dakota Farmer in the late 1800s when they printed farming and agriculture magazines distributed to more than 80,000 farmers. Roger Feickert began his career with the company in the late 1970s and later purchased the company in 1986, renaming it to Midstates Printing. While Midstates took on new customers and expanded to more areas of the country, the equipment was becoming outdated and in needed of more frequent repairs.
Matt Feickert, Midstate Group’s CEO, said it was getting harder to find parts needed to keep the old presses working. He knew they needed to invest in newer, more efficient printers, so they hired BTU Engineering of Brookings to do an engineering study, which showed how much Midstates could save in energy costs by replacing the aging equipment.
“Not only were we able to improve quality and capacity but we were greatly able to reduce our downtime and repair and maintenance costs on the older equipment and all of the ancillary equipment that was required to keep them running,” said Matt.
The CEO said Midstates is thankful programs like Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) exist to help businesses keep up-to-date on technology while making their operation more environmentally friendly.
“The USDA grant was instrumental in helping us move forward with installing new equipment to reduce energy and maintenance costs, improve productivity and quality, and increase capacity,” Matt said. “We were able to remove two machines that were 35 and 40 years old with one machine and still increase capacity.”
Matt added that labor shortages have created another challenge but said the efficiency of the new equipment has helped fill the labor gaps and increased Midstates’ capacity. “It’s hard to measure how much we’ve saved because of rising energy costs, but we’re doing more with less and expect to take another machine offline because of how well this one machine can keep up.”
Midstates estimates the upgrade will save the company more than $95,000 in energy costs per year. REAP is available to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses in developing renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements to their operations.
Rural Development has invested nearly $4 million across South Dakota since 2016. Lance Lockwood, Rural Development’s Environmental Coordinator for REAP, said “We’ve worked with a lot of businesses and agriculture producers across the state that have been working with outdated equipment. These improvements have really helped them update their operations and the recipients have really appreciated the investments by Rural Development.”
Matt recommends this program to anyone with a project to modernize their business. “The application process and support from Rural Development was great,” said Matt. “I really appreciated the help and communication throughout the process.”
To learn more about REAP and other Rural Development programs, visit www.rd.usda.gov/sd.