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Making Quality Count

South Dakota Grain Company Putting Quality First for Almost 30 Years

This is the second in a series spotlighting four of the eleven companies who will be traveling with Gov. Dennis Daugaard on his third trade mission to China this week.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Brad and Jami Hennrich hope to impress the Chinese people with their company’s good grades.

That’s because their grain company, Hesco Inc, has earned some of the highest quality ratings in the industry during the last decade.

Nearly 10 years ago, the Watertown-based company added state-of-the-art optical cleaning equipment, “catapulting” Hesco’s quality standards of “super-clean” whole grain. But perhaps Hesco’s greatest accomplishment was in 2010 under the vision of Rick Hanson, when its Watertown facility earned an “A” grade during its first British Retail Consortium (BRC) audit, the highest possible certification rating which is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). A year later, Hesco’s Hastings, Neb., facility earned its “A” grade certification as well.

“At that time, we were told we were one of the very few companies who had both locations certified as grade ‘A,’” said Jami Hennrich, Hesco CEO. “That was a huge accomplishment for us.”

In fact, in almost 30 years that its doors have been open, Hesco, Inc. has been ahead of the food production quality curve. Hesco, Inc. began in 1985 as a small family business, owned by Bruce and Colleen Hestad. Developing a quality product was its mission from the start, and company officials knew that to accomplish a fine product, it must start with the people.

The Hestads believed in hiring only the best people and in providing only the best specialty grains. Based on those beliefs, a quality product was born. In 2008, Bruce and Colleen sold to two other families in a seamless transition. The Hanson and Hennrich families (who were the core management group at the time) still keep true to the original mission—putting quality first. Hesco currently provides specialty grains to most of the major food and pet food manufacturers in the United States. Hesco’s high quality grain products can be found in many typical homes in the United States. Whether it’s in breakfast cereal, snacks, cookies, crackers, breads, pet foods and treats, beverages and frozen foods, Hesco has a vast presence in most homes—the average person just doesn’t know it.

“The food industry has evolved over time, especially over the last five to six years. It’s become very stringent,” said Brad Hennrich, company president. “Hesco has always focused on providing a high quality product and we’ve always had an extreme focus on food safety. We’ve been fortunate to always be one step ahead.”

It goes without saying; Hesco has used food quality as a way to differentiate itself from its competitors. And when competition was nipping at its heals, Hesco continuously stepped up its game.

“We had a focus where we could track our product to the field and then to our manufacturer, as well as all the processes and procedural documentation along the way, so we have the whole ‘field to the fork’ process covered, which became a big part of what we do, and we were doing that early on,” said Hennrich.

So what does all of this add up to and how will it impact Hesco’s trip to China? Hennrich says if there’s one impression he can make in China, it’s that the quality—the unfaltering dedication to quality—of Hesco’s product can’t be beat.

“Like any other consumer, Chinese consumers like to know where their food is coming from. They want that peace of mind of knowing what they’re feeding their kids is quality, highly-nutritious grains and I hope Hesco can be their answer. If nothing else, just to make connections over there is going to be hugely beneficial to our company.”

The South Dakota delegation leaves on Friday, May 9, and will return to the states the following week. For more information about Hesco, Inc. visit its website at

Media Contact

Members of the media requesting more information should contact Natalie Likness at or (605) 773-3301.