Protein Solutions feeds the growing high-end pet food market


By Karen Buschmann

Missouri loves its dogs. Our state ranks fourth in the nation in dog ownership, and nearly one of every two Missourians owns a dog. So it’s not surprising that Missouri would also be home to an impressive list of companies that support the pet industry or that these companies, like Protein Solutions, would be among the fastest-growing businesses in the state.

“The grain-free sector of the pet specialty channel is one of the fastest-growing segments,” said Scott Walker, president and CEO of 3D Corporate Solutions. “It is great for us to be a top solution-provider in that market.”

Located in Joplin, Protein Solutions is one of the production arms of 3D Corporate Solutions, which provides ingredients to leading pet food manufacturers. 3D Corporate Solutions began in 2002 as a sales and logistics company serving the pet food industry. Market demands created the opportunity to add production to 3D Corporate Solutions’ offerings. Protein Solutions was opened in 2005 to fill that need.

In addition to being fast-growing, the pet food industry is competitive and suppliers need to be responsive and innovative to meet clients’ needs.

“What we do best is listening to customers, serving our customers and solving their problems,” said Walker. “That’s why Protein Solutions was started, and our customer-focused culture is why our company has grown so quickly.”

Since Protein Solutions started manufacturing operations in 2005, it has expanded from 25 employees to more than 100. Revenue from the plant has increased more than 200 percent over the last three years.

Quality chicken is the primary ingredient produced by the plant.

“All of the products we process are made with 100 percent human-edible raw material,” Walker said.

The people who work at Protein Solutions are another key to the company’s success. Employees take pride in their work because they are owners of the company through a generous employee stock ownership plan.

“Our employees come into this company and immediately become owners,” Walker said. “They are automatically provided shares of the company annually, and they become fully vested in six years. Employee ownership is a big part of our culture that sets us apart from our competition and helps us stay focused on listening to our customers and effectively meeting their demands.”

Watching employees take ownership of their work is a point of pride for Walker.

“What gives me the most satisfaction is seeing people utilize their God-given talents and skills and connecting the dots as they figure out how to best serve a customer, a supplier and fellow work mates,” he said.

Walker took the helm of 3D Corporate Solutions after working for 21 years at a global agriculture processing company, including 12 years of senior management experience in Europe in the cocoa and chocolate industry. Moving to Missouri to lead a pet food processing facility might seem like an unusual career move but not to Walker.

“I grew up in central Illinois on a family farm and didn’t know much about Missouri other than the St. Louis Cardinals,” Walker joked. “But when I saw the culture of this company, the entrepreneurial spirit of its owners and the opportunity for growth, I was extremely excited to come and be a part of the Protein Solutions and 3D Corporate Solutions team.”

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