2004 Apex Winner
Hailing from Howard County, Indiana, Ted Merrell received an Associates degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue in 1982. After graduation, Ted quickly returned home and with his brother, Terry, established Merrell Brothers.
The Merrell Bros. company at that time was much different than today. In 1982, Merrell Bros. was in the hog finishing business. The business model used by Merrell Bros. was fairly simple—buy feeders at a favorable price, lock in the market price and feed costs, and finish as many pigs as possible. This meant they were always looking for sites that could be rented for hog finishing. At the height of this endeavor, Ted and Terry were driving 100-mile round trips to do chores. The Merrells were utilizing multi-site hog production well before it gained wide acceptance.
Production of market hogs in such a system can present some problems or opportunities, depending on your point of view. One of these was waste disposal. The Merrells' solution was to purchase a liquid manure applicator. This attracted attention and the Merrells began receiving requests from farmers to serve as custom applicators. This was the beginning of the current biosolids business.
Today, Merrell Bros. specializes in development and management of beneficial biosolids reuse programs for municipalities, industries, and livestock operations. Merrell Bros. has grown to be one of the largest land application companies in the Midwest. The company employs 50 people in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. They provide services to over 250 towns and cities in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska and Missouri from their home base of operations centered in Howard County, Indiana.
The beneficial reuse programs provide recycling alternatives for waste by-products in several agricultural markets. This provides nutrient fertilization for nearly 15,000 acres annually. Since its inception, Merrell Bros. has experienced between 15% to 20% growth annually. In 2003, the company sales reached over 6.5 million dollars.
Giving back is also important to Ted. He is a member of the Indiana Water Environmental Association, the Water Environment Federation, the Great Lakes By-Products Management Executive Board, and has served as chairman for the Residuals Committee for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Ted is also a member of the Northwestern School Corporation Board, the Northwestern Elementary School Improvement Committee, the Howard County Extension Board, Howard County Solid Waste Management District, and the Upper Deer Creek Church.
Ted, his wife Jean, and their four children, Katelyn, Blake, Brayden, and Karson reside in Howard County, Indiana.