Having a deep understanding of the complex world of nutrients is how Nutra-Flo has been able to grow and survive through multiple economic ups and downs, advancements in technology and government regulations. The company has been family owned from the beginning and has had three generations of experience and expertise at the helm.

Although founded in 1954, Nutra-Flo was an offshoot from an older company, Kay-Dee Feed Company. In 1928, A.W. Lohry bought the Kay-Dee name and opened Kay-Dee Feed Company, which sold feed and seed to farmers.

"My grandfather was the consummate sales person," recalls Raun Lohry, current president of Nutra-Flo and grandson to A.W. "He could sell anything to anyone."

The discovery of the Haber–Bosch process sped up the introduction and use of fertilizer to replace manure. Shortly after World War II, Nutra-Flo began experimenting by combining phosphoric acid with ammonia. The result: a clear liquid fertilizer.

"One of the biggest challenges the company faced with its liquid fertilizers in the early days was that farmers had a hard time believing the product wasn't just water or urine collected from the stockyards," Lohry said. "Many farmers thought the company was collecting animal waste, cleaning it and selling it as fertilizer. We had a huge education challenge in front of us."

But Nutra-Flo took on that challenge. A.W.'s three sons, Royal, Bill and Kermit went to farmers and organized demonstrations on how to use and get results from their liquid fertilizer.

Lohry remembers many pancake dinners the company sponsored to teach  farmers how to use the products.

In 1965, sons Royal and Bill, who became the second generation owners, partnered and built the first independently owned dicalcium phosphate plant at Weeping Water, Neb. Ten years later, they sold the plant to Texas Gulf, which later became a part of PotashCorp. PCS still operates the plant today, Lohry said.

Nutra-Flo went on to create new liquid products to help farmers get improved yields. Those products include its Nulex Liquid Zinc and PureGrade products.

Nulex Liquid Zinc was developed so zinc could be easily handled and added to liquid fertilizers. The PureGrade products line was designed to provide a chloride-free source of liquid fertilizer extensively for use in no-till fields.

"We realized a different kind of potassium was needed that wouldn’t hurt the seed. So we created PureGrade, which is a line of chloride-free fertilizers," Lohry said.

Nutra-Flo's expertise in the fertilizer nutrient world also translated into knowledge applicable to the feed industry. In the mid-80s, the company developed a mono calcium phosphate that was more biologically available to animals — Ultra-Phos. Ultra-Phos is a major ingredient in many of the bag minerals and mineral blocks that Kay Dee Feed company produces. In 1997, Nutra-Flo started producing a porcine-based high quality protein supplement, DPS, which is sold in domestic and international markets.

Despite starting out as a small feed and fertilizer store in Sioux City, Iowa, Nutra-Flo has grown to include six manufacturing facilities in the United States. The company remains based in Sioux City and has 135 employees. Its fertilizer products are distributed throughout North America, but its feed and feed additive products are distributed throughout the world.

A couple of years ago, Nutra-Flo partnered with a South Korean company to form NutraFerma, which produces a hydrolyzed soybean-based protein for animal feed. "Many countries will not accept feed additives with an animal protein source now due to the BSE scare a few years ago," Lohry said. "High-quality plant protein sources fill the need, which we can provide through this partnership.

"Our company has grown by creating innovative products that improve agriculture and our customers' bottom lines," Lohry said.