Malcolm DeKryger is the president and co-owner of Belstra Milling, an agribusiness specializing in pork production. DeKryger recently gave advice to a group of future entrepreneurs at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture Entrepreneurial Day.
Malcolm DeKryger is the president and co-owner of Belstra Milling, an agribusiness specializing in pork production. DeKryger recently gave advice to a group of future entrepreneurs at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture Entrepreneurial Day.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — When Malcolm DeKryger spoke at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture Entrepreneurial Day, he exuded optimism and excitement.

Telling stories of his past and plans for the future, he shared advice with a room full of entrepreneur hopefuls.

DeKryger is a visionary in the pork industry. He began working at Belstra Milling 20 years ago as head of development and sales. He now is co-owner and president of the company.

He also has worked with Fair Oaks Farms to establish the Pig Adventure, a functioning hog operation that teaches visitors about the industry.

“About every three years, I get an itch and have to scratch it,” DeKryger said concerning coming up with new business ideas. “I love pigs. I keep thinking of different ways to raise pigs. And I have people around me that are just as excited about raising pigs as I am.”

When new ideas come out, DeKryger isn’t afraid to embrace them. Under his leadership, Belstra Milling was among the first to do 100 percent artificial insemination and utilize computerized feeding finishing facilities.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve designed, permitted, built, managed and rebuilt five companies,” he said. “We finish pigs for a lot of people in our community. Twenty years ago, we produced 12,000 pigs. Now, we’re at 400,000 pigs.

“I believe strongly that if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you have this vocation and this vocation is what you’re called to do. You can’t second guess it.”

His own vocation has led him to be passionate about making the ag industry transparent and easy for non-farmers to understand.

Belstra Milling gives tours of its operations to the community. DeKryger believes in being a part of agricultural education, so when approached by Fair Oaks about starting a pig operation, he was on board.

“We just opened Legacy Farms completely on Aug. 5,” he said. “That farm is also a museum. We have 110,000 square feet of full-scale production, and 2,800 sows that produce between 70,000 to 75,000 pigs per year.

“We have about 250 baby pigs born per day that the public can watch through windows. Upstairs we have 25,000 square feet of tourism. This whole idea was hatched by looking at what Fair Oaks did. Fair Oaks is full of entrepreneurs like us.”

His involvement with Fair Oaks doesn’t end with the Pig Adventure, either.

“We are going to be adding a pig education center,” he said. “There’s a restaurant for 300 being built. There’s a hotel with a water park that should be going 2014 through 2015. We have dreams for Purdue to be involved.”

He said that collaborators plan on opening a hen laying facility onsite. A seed technology facility also is in the works.

“The bubble has been burst,” DeKryger noted. “Dreams and entrepreneurship are running wild.”

His advice to future business owners? You have to have to be driven.

“You have to want it that bad,” DeKryger said. “As you get out there in the world, you will find something that just lights you up. If you are addicted to that topic, you can move mountains that seem impossible.”