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Darling Ingredients is BE Business of the Year

By Staff | Jan 19, 2020

Darling Ingredients (DarPro) office staff and managers include, left to right, Jeff Lewis, Kevin Jahnke, Niki Meyer, Scott Sargent, Heidi Stauffer, Paul Willner and Jaymee Nelson.

The Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce has selected their Business of the Year honoree, and it is Darling Ingredients.

“We are extremely honored to be selected as the Business of the Year,” says Scott Sargent, the manager of the rendering plant on the south edge of Blue Earth. “We are proud to be a part of the community of Blue Earth, and our company and employees try to give back to the community as much as we can.”

The Blue Earth business has been around since 1928, when Emil Kark came to the city and started Blue Earth Rendering Company, for the disposal of dead animals.

The company remained in the Kark family until 1989, when it was purchased by Darling International.

Darling International, now known as Darling Ingredients, also has a long history.

It was started by Ira C. Darling in 1882 in Chicago, Illinois. First known as Ira C. Darling & Company, it has also been called the Darling-Delaware Company, as well as other names.

The name was changed to Darling International, Inc., in 1993. Then in May of 2014, the name was changed to Darling Ingredients, Inc.

“That is the parent company name,” Sargent explains. “There are two other brand names, DarPro Solutions and DarPro Ingredients. DarPro Solutions is the group of the non-food processing plants, while DarPro Ingredients covers the food processing plants.”

And, there are a lot of processing plants. Over the past few years Darling Ingredients has grown by leaps and bounds, Sargent says, purchasing other similar companies around the world.

Today, Darling Ingredients owns over 200 processing plants on five different continents.

“Our official name here is DarPro Solutions – Blue Earth Site,” explains Sargent. “But, we know many folks still refer to us as Darling International. And, that is fine.”

The plant in Blue Earth has two main products they produce; tallow and grease which is used as a calorie source in livestock feed or for bio fuels, and meat and bone meal which is a source of protein for livestock.

“Everything our company makes is pretty much a recycled product,” Sargent says. “We help reduce the carbon footprint and produce energy from waste.”

The Blue Earth DarPro plant employs 35 people, all of them full time. There are four working in the main office and 15 truck drivers, with the rest involved working in the processing plant or in maintenance.

“Our truck drivers run 13 routes every day,” Sargent says. “They are picking up deceased animals in much of southern Minnesota as well as five or six counties in Iowa.”

With the rise in the number of hog containment facilities in the area, Sargent says most of the animals they pick up are now hogs. But another item the local plant picks up is not a type of animal, but is used cooking oil.

Sargent talks about his employees as being a team.

“This is really a team effort here,” he says. “And we have a great team working at this plant in Blue Earth.”

Sargent himself starting working at Darling International back in the 1990s. He has been at plants in Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. He came to Blue Earth 2011. He and his family live on an acreage near Guckeen.

The office manager is Heidi Stauffer, and she has worked at the Blue Earth plant for 24 years.

Assistant plant manager Paul Willner started working there in 1986. Plant superintendent Jeff Lewis started in 1984. Several other current employees also started in 1984.

The wastewater treatment manager, Kevin Jahnke, has been working there for 19 years.

“We are like a family,” office manager Stauffer explains. “When you work with people every day for many years, you all become just like a family.”

Whatever name it is known by Darling International, Darling Ingredients or Dar Pro Solutions the 92-year-old Blue Earth business will be recognized and honored at the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet on Friday evening, Jan. 24.

“We really appreciate this honor,” Sargent says. “It is nice to be recognized by the community. We want to do what we can to support this community. Of course, everyone knows us as a sponsor of the annual campout food shelf drive, but we support as many things as we can.”

More information about DarPro Solutions can be found at their website at www.darpro-solutions.com/locations/minneapolis-used-cooking-oil-recycling-services