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Growth Opportunities and New Endeavors | April 2024

By Cheryl Kepes

Photos courtesy 605 Sires + Donors


605 Sires + Donors embraces expansion to meet customer and industry demands.



Cory and Melissa Schrag’s business, 605 Sires + Donors, operates in a dynamic state of growth and expansion. In the years since its inception, 605 Sires + Donors has methodically expanded its facilities and technology to create a one-stop genetic services center for its customers.


The company flourished right out of the gate. The genetic services business, located in Marion, S.D., started with one bull barn that held a maximum of 40 bulls. The Schrag’s initial business model centered on offering an all-encompassing bull stud service. Now after only seven years in business, the company possesses the facilities to provide services to 110 bulls and 100 donor females.



Facility Expansions

The additions through the years include bull barns, donor housing, an embryo center, a CSS facility (which houses bulls for international semen exports), as well as a sexed semen lab. And the expansion continues. The latest project on the horizon is an IVF center. The new facility is currently under construction.


“From the very beginning the goal was to provide a semen collection service for the seedstock producers in our area. It grew and mushroomed from there to eventually add IVF services, and then sexed semen services, and now the on-site IVF services. And we have taken every step gradually,” Cory Schrag, owner of 605 Sires + Donors, said.


Though growth is happening quickly, the Schrags work to ensure each addition occurs thoughtfully. “When looking at growth and expansion, we make sure we are able to meet the customers’ needs and they are still getting the quality of service they are looking for,” Cory explained.



Customer Focus

The genetic services business is a natural fit for the Schrags. In addition to running 605 Sires + Donors, the couple helps to manage Schrag-Nikkel Show Cattle – a cattle operation focused on producing show ring champions.


Growing up, Cory worked with registered Shorthorns, and Melissa registered Angus. When the two were first married, 25 years ago, they owned and operated an embryo transfer (ET) company.


“We both have a lifetime of experience in the seedstock industry. And that is something that really helped us as we got the business started – we were basically customers long before we were providers,” Cory shared.


Their intimate knowledge of what producers want from a genetic services company helps to guide their business decisions. “We knew what we wanted from a customer standpoint, and we knew information was critical and communication was critical. So, we added a customer portal from the onset of the business,” Cory stated.


The portal allows customers to log online and view their inventory, statements, and invoices. They can also check to see if semen or embryos have shipped. The Schrags say their customers appreciate the easy access to information, transparency, and open lines of communication.



IVF Center

In conjunction with ABS Global, 605 Sires + Donors is building an IVF center. At the facility, harvested oocytes will be fertilized and matured. In the past, the aspirated oocytes were transported to a lab in Sioux Falls, S.D., for fertilization and development, then brought back to 605 Sires + Donors.


The development of an IVF center allows the entire process to be conducted in one location. The on-site IVF center will also give customers access to the latest in reproductive technology.

The IVF center will have the technology and staff to offer reverse sort. “Until now we have used either conventional semen or sexed frozen semen and now with the technology that we have in place we will be able to reverse sort the fertilizations in the IVF space. Reverse sort is the big advantage that we will be able to offer with the new facility,” Cory stated.


ABS Global has hired one staff member to work at the new IVF center. Additionally, 605 Sires + Donors, plans to add two more IVF center employees. The facility is scheduled to open in June.


The additional staff hired for the IVF center brings the company’s total to 14 employees. In 2017, the company started with Cory, Melissa, and one other employee.



Teamwork

As the company has grown, the Schrags have worked to build a strong team. For each segment of the business, there is at least one employee overseeing that part of the operation. “The key when you have that many irons in the fire is you have to have someone focus on each one of those irons,” Cory said. “We have staff members in place that do an excellent job to make sure every area gets covered, and nothing gets neglected.”


Convenience Factor

Each addition the company has added through the years creates another element of convenience for customers. With the completion of the IVF center, 605 Sires + Donors will take one more step toward setting itself apart from other genetics services companies.


The number and variety of services 605 Sires + Donors offers at its location makes it unique in its field. “To have one location that can produce sexed semen, IVF embryos, and conventional semen is extremely rare. I can only think of one other one, and we would be the only privately owned one in the country,” Cory said.



Future Growth

Following the company’s trajectory over the years, it may come as no surprise more expansion is in the works. The Schrags are looking into establishing IVF satellite centers in north and central South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. The satellite centers would serve as collection sites for donors; harvested oocytes would be brought to the new IVF facility in Marion to be fertilized and developed.


No matter what new development is in the works, the Schrags proceed much thoughtfulness and with a focus on their customers’ needs. “We recognize the value of the genetics that the customers bring to us, and we take that very seriously. We make sure that every animal is cared for as if we owned them ourselves,” Cory expressed.



learn more at www.605sires.com

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