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  • Mark Napier and Lance Groettum

Relationships and Trust

Updated: Feb 2

These are two essential ingredients for WWS Trading in making great feedstock deals for its clients.

 

WWS Trading is a small employee- and family-owned firm located outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, started in 1992 by Wendy Weihe Storlie. The company has evolved over the past three decades and settled into its current model: a small, efficient, high-touch service focused on supplying feedstock to biofuel and feed producers.

 

We are two of the traders who work with most of WWS’s biofuel clients. While WWS is a “trading” company, what we really are is a service business. Everything we do revolves around customer service. We have found that trust is what makes for a valuable relationship in the long run, and our high-touch service is what our customers value most. Many of our customers have been with us for more than a decade. The relationships and trust created over the years with our suppliers and customers are what we believe give us an edge over our competitors. Those two things can’t be ignored when getting a deal done.

 

We differ from a traditional broker, jobber or trading company in a few meaningful ways. We don’t just broker the product. Usually our customers (or suppliers) are buying from (or selling to) us directly. This allows us to manage the entire process of feedstock procurement. We take ownership at pick up until delivery and handle all the negotiations, billing and any problems that may come up. This also means our customers only need to pay and communicate with one company instead of multiple suppliers and logistics providers.

 

We deal with truck breakdowns, supply disruptions, rescheduling and many other issues so that our customers don’t need to track down trucks or negotiate rates in an unfamiliar market. If something goes wrong, all they do is contact us and we fix it. Our team bends over backwards to make things run as smoothly as possible for our customers. That’s the main reason people like working with us—they trust us to do our absolute best to make getting their feedstock easier.

 

Beyond the high-touch service we provide, our focus on fats and oils feedstocks combined with our assetless business model gives us an added advantage. We have an extensive customer and logistics network, which makes it easier to match buyers with what they need and get suppliers better prices. It allows us to optimize shipping networks and gives us more flexibility when something needs to be rescheduled. These network effects make the market efficient and competitive, and allow us to offer better pricing, liquidity and products for our customers.

 

Additionally, we can offer credit or better payment terms when some suppliers might not be willing to. Cash flow is really important for some of our clients, and we can offer flexible terms while maintaining good risk management. We use credit insurance and keep a healthy balance sheet to ensure our suppliers are comfortable selling to us. We carefully manage our risk and financial exposure to maintain our reputation as a safe and reliable company. For our suppliers, we always pay on time, on their terms, whether our customers pay us or not. We take risk off their plate, and that’s not always easy to come by in this market.

 

Similarly, we work with our customers on different pricing models and payment terms to fit their unique needs. We can also help our customers hedge their feedstock purchases. Importantly, we don’t take large positions or store products to “time the market.” We prefer to play the long game, providing great service and competitive pricing rather than maximizing margins on each load.

 

We advise our clients on supply and demand and where we see the market going, which can help them meet their projected needs. We also stay informed of state and federal biofuel requirements and help educate our suppliers on what is needed from them to sell into the current biobased diesel feedstock markets.

 

Over the past five years we have updated our internal information-technology (IT) tools to improve operational efficiency and accuracy. This has allowed us to focus on more complicated or pressing issues for our customers and spend less time on administrative work. We are also rolling out a customer portal that will make it easier for customers and suppliers to access their contracts, schedules and billing information with us on demand. The portal will be ready in the first quarter.

 

We have an internal motto of “never assume,” which speaks to our company culture. Never assume you can’t make that price work, find a truck for that load or get the specs needed. “Not assuming” has allowed us to build relationships where others have failed. We always try to make something work for our customers, even when it seems impossible. You just never know until you try.

 

So, if you haven’t worked with us before, please reach out. We might be able to get you a better price, more product or simply offer better service than what you’re used to.


Authors:


Lance Groettum

Senior Trader

WWS Trading

952-548-9300



Mark Napier

Senior Trader

WWS Trading

952-548-9300

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