Double D Family Mat Shop’s Innovative Products Help Livestock and the Environment

Double D Family Mat Shop - Dale Goetz

Dale Goetz grew up working with his brothers and father at the family feedlot in Park, Kansas. “My father was an ‘order buyer’ (cattle broker) in the area. When Goetz started his own feedlot business just outside Park (Kansas) in 1993, little did he know that his penchant for tinkering would lead to a new family business that exports its innovative products to faraway places like Canada and Australia. Today, the Double D Family Mat Shop, Inc. produces mats made from used tires that that help prevent cattle from slipping and being injured at feedlots and farms. The livestock mats reduce noise, which calms the cattle, and reduces the risk of injury when the cattle are moved on hard surfaces like concrete. The company also produces a similar mat that helps prevent soil erosion. The innovative livestock and anti-erosion mats are made from re-purposed used tires, which make them environmentally friendly. 

Eureka Moment

Goetz’s inspiration to create livestock mats from car tire treads came from a magazine ad about kits to make door mats made from the sidewalls of car tires. Dale’s wife, Dena Goetz started making the doormats to make some extra money for their growing family of five children by selling them at craft fairs.  After making several mats from tire sidewalls, Goetz wondered what to do with the pile of leftover tire treads.

One day, a representative from a veterinarian supply company mentioned that a new feed yard in St. Francis (KS) had new concrete poured in front of the cattle chutes, and the cattle were slipping and getting hurt on the slick concrete.

Goetz thought about the rubber doormats and the unused tire treads he had on-hand, and came up with the idea of stitching together a large mat to cover the concrete area in front of the cattle chute. Goetz used a jigsaw to cut 25 tire treads to size, weaved them in a crisscross pattern, threaded the pieces together using galvanized wire, and bolted the strips to keep them secure.   

 The livestock mat Goetz built proved to be the perfect solution to the problem at the feed yard, as well as an environmentally friendly way to re-use old tires. The mats are heavy and tough enough to handle the cattle walking over them, and they dampen the noise and appear to be more comfortable for the livestock.

“I’ve always been a tinkerer, and I like to innovate to solve practical problems,” said Goetz. “I believe it’s a mindset that I inherited from my father and grandfather, who owned a blacksmith shop,” Goetz added. “I’ve always told my wife I wanted to come up with something that nobody else has come up with,” says Goetz.

Demand for the livestock mats spiked once the word got out about the utility of Goetz’s livestock mats. “Cowboys and feedlot owners throughout Kansas and Midwest spread the news about the effectiveness our livestock mats, so we didn’t have to do a lot of conventional advertising. The orders came to us,” said Goetz. “We also had support from the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) because the mats prevent animals from slipping and getting injured at the sale barns,” Goetz continued. “Oklahoma State University is developing a study on cattle slip injuries before and after the use of our livestock mats, we are hoping that this will give us some concrete statistics on how effective the mats really are.” Considering some feedlots move 1,000 cattle a day, the cost per head of cattle for our livestock mat amounts to only 5-cents/head based on the normal life span of the mat. 

Goetz picks up tires from tire shops in the area. Radial tires make the best livestock mats because of their durability and the wire in the tread. Livestock mats that are made from tire treads, come in several standard sizes, but many are custom made according to the dimensions of the area the rancher/feedlot/packing plant/salebarn needs. The mats are used for a number of purposes, including stock trailers, loading chutes, round crowding tubs, alleyways, and salerings.

Innovating new products from discarded waste: Sled ‘n’ Sling

Beyond the re-purposing of old tires into useful livestock mats and methods to prevent soil erosion, Goetz has created a patent-pending product that allows livestock handlers to move injured animals in a safe and humane way. The company’s new product, Sled ‘n’ Sling, is a 6-foot by 8-foot solid rubber sheet with a lifting bar and chain loops on each end. The Sled ‘n’ Sling can be used to either lift an injured animal using a skid steer, or to pull it to safety as a sled on the ground. The product is made from half-inch thick, solid rubber conveyor belt material that was once used in mining operations.

“A broker that sources and sells used or discarded industrial materials told me about these giant rolls of the thick conveyor belt material he had procured from a mining company that once used it to transport rock. He offered to ship me a big roll or two for a cheap price to see if I could make use of it,” said Goetz. Once Goetz saw how durable the belting was, he realized it could hold some weight, and the rest is history.

All in the family

In 2012, Goetz’s three daughters, Amber Hutchison, Christin Merwald, and Mandy Goetz got involved in the business. Amber Hutchison is using the accounting and management skills she learned in college as the company’s Chief Operations Officer. Christin Merwald manages the advertising and marketing, and Mandy Goetz is managing the sales and order processing systems for the business. “So far, our daughters are doing a phenomenal job in managing the business we have, and taking it to the next level. If the timing’s right, we may also incorporate one or both of my sons in the business in the not too distant future,” said Goetz.    

Christin Merwald learned about the technical assistance for businesses that were offered by the Kansas SBDC at Fort Hays State University. In 2014 when the company was negotiating its first container loads of livestock mats to Australia, Christin contacted the Kansas SBDC for help in completing the export declaration documentation. “The Kansas SBDC really helped us understand the export process, and provided good guidance to help us get started,” said Hutchison. “The Kansas SBDC also provided us with potential customers in a 150 mile radius, and also helped us fine-tune our business plan as we were growing,” Hutchison continued. “The Kansas SBDC gave us the expertise we were looking for to expand our business both here and abroad,” Hutchison concluded. 

Company Name: 
Double D Family Mat Shop, Inc.
Location: 
Park, Kansas