White River Feed owners named SBA Nebraska's Small Business Persons of the Year

Cody and Chrystal Brooks, owners of White River Feed, pose in front of their business in Chadron, Nebraska

Cody Brooks and his business partner at the time needed a written business plan in order to purchase White River Feed & Trailer Sales, LLC, so a banker referred him to Tim Donahue, director of the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) office in Chadron.

“We wound up with a good, solid business plan,” Brooks says. “It got us the loan.”

In 2012, when Brooks and his business partner, Craig Hoffman, sought to buy White River Feed & Trailer Sales, Hoffman was working for the company. Brooks had worked for the company for 12 years but had left the previous fall on good terms with the owners.

Donahue helped the two men obtain a loan and a line of credit at Security First Bank in Chadron. “We tell all our clients that if they sign a waiver that allows us to contact directly with their bank, we can then expedite the process between the bank, the client, the Nebraska Northwest Development Corporation, if used; and the NBDC,” Donahue says.

Donahue says NBDC consultant/student worker Andrew Borgialli assisted Brooks and Hoffman by writing a draft of the business plan and providing a projected 12-month cash flow based on the tax documents shared by the previous owners. The NBDC office also provided a 12-month Projected Sales Forecast, a 12-Month Projected Profit and Loss and a Projected Income Statement for 2013-2015.

Brooks says the business plan continued to prove useful long after securing the loan. “We kept referring back to it,” he says. “It gave us a three-year plan that served as a way to gauge our progress and where we needed to be.”

They changed the name of the business to White River Feed, LLC after discontinuing the trailer sales. Also, Brooks and his wife have since bought Hoffman’s share of the business.

White River Feed, which has five employees, has increased sales every year since 2012. In addition, Brooks worked with the NBDC Procurement Technical Assistance program and Consultants Mary Graff and Chuck Beck to secure three government contracting awards in 2015.

The business offers a variety of farm and ranch supplies along with feed and seed. They sell agrichemicals, herbicides, pesticides, steel panels and gates, steel cattle feeders, steel feed bunks, wood and steel fence posts and electric fence supplies. They carry Ritchie waterers and also provide tack and horse care supplies.

Brooks says the NBDC office in Chadron has been a reliable resource for his company. “They are very knowledgeable and worked well with us,” he says. “They really helped us get going.

“For a young person, or for anyone just starting out in business, they’re a good resource to have, and they’re right here in our home town,” he says. “I’d darn sure recommend them to anybody who needs business advice and assistance.”

Cody and his wife Chrystal were recently named the SBA’s Nebraska Small Business Persons of the Year for 2017.

Company Name: 
White River Feed
Location: 
Chadron, Nebraska