Y-Tex tags still made in the U.S.A.
If you haven’t personally used them to identify your livestock, there is a good chance you have seen the products while wandering the aisles of your local farm and ranch supply store where bags upon bags of colorful, geometrical shaped tags hang in rows. Chance are, if you have driven down a dirt road and seen cattle in a pasture, you have definitely seen products from Cody, Wyoming based Y-Tex Corporation.
The company began in 1967 during a time when ways to identify livestock were becoming more popular in the agricultural industry. Cody resident, Norm Hayes, wanted to create a business that would develop plastic ear tags for all species of livestock. He partnered with a banker and distribution company, VA Snell, from Texas. Hayes was to run the production side and VA Snell oversaw the sales. From the Wyoming-Texas partnership the name Y-Tex was born.
Eventually, Hayes sold the business and has since passed away. The business has changed hands over the years, and today, Glenn Nielson is a third-generation Y-Tex® manager and is president of the company that is still based in Cody. In the late 1960s, Nielson’s grandfather enjoyed production and employment in the town of Cody and bought into the company shortly after its establishment. Eventually, Nielson’s father and two other partners, Jerry Payne and Craig Dansie, bought the business. Nielson himself has worked for the company for more than ten years and became president in 2011.
When the company first began, manufacturing was outsourced, but within the first few years production moved to Cody and has continued there since, one of the many unique aspects of the agricultural company.
“We have an all-American line of identification tags and with that comes value and quality,” says Glenn Nielson. “It’s not just for marketing; in our case, we legitimately recognize there is a slightly higher cost because we are producing a notably higher quality product.”
The plastic that Y-Tex uses for their tags is more expensive and difficult to mold, according to Nielson. Everyday items such as cell phone parts, computer monitors or pens are made from cheaper, easier to work with plastic. Y-Tex’s products are more durable and more rugged, to the point that they are used beyond production agriculture, like in the ocean, in situations that require chemical resistance and in the oil field for identifying lines, cables and valves.
Over the last 50 years, Y-Tex’s product lines have advanced at a rapid pace. They began with an identification tag, a simple piece of plastic in a specific color with either an alpha or numeric way for identifying animals. With time, Y-Tex began to grow into different products, adding both electronics and pest control chemicals to the lineup.
“Clear back in the ’80s we were working with RFID electronics and those are now commonplace pieces of identification,” says Nielson. “Now rather than just a piece of plastic, you have electronics incorporated into that plastic that are better at managing data for producers.”
Later the company branched out to become the world’s leading expert in chemical fly control through a cattle tag, a product area that makes up over 50 percent of Y-Tex’s sales. Currently, they are the only company who has three distinct chemical families that have different modes of action on pests. This caused Y-Tex to move into the most recent product area which includes non-tag insecticide pest control.
“Between all of them, we look at ourselves as an animal health company,” Nielson says. “We even have pet products,” although he adds that they are not tremendously strong in that area just yet. “Because of our technology, we are such an expert in the chemical formulation and the ability to mold product and release a chemical for pest control that we have been approached by a lot of different partners and even to this day we do a lot of trials and a lot of research and development work in that area.”
Y-Tex carries products that put barriers around foundations of homes, fencing that will control pests and kill flies that are detrimental to whitetail deer, pest control units that can be placed into an outlet, wraps that can go on fuel lines both in boats that have ant problems and even products that keep pests out of power boxes.
The innovative company employees around 120 people who are responsible for everything from administrative work and accounting to engineering and machine processing.
“Our research and development side is fairly unique and neat where we have chemical engineers, doctors and entomologists in the pest control area and that ranges right out to expertise in injection molding in plastics and machine processing.”
Because they don’t outsource and buy patents and technology, the research and development side of the business is not only unique, but also an important aspect that gives Y-Tex a competitive advantage.
“We are innovating at unprecedented rates,” Nielson says. “We’re a customer-driven company, we’re developing new products and launching new tag lines as we speak. It’s a lot of fun to be working with software partners and a lot of different technology that ultimately is going to help produce better managed food production.”