On Monday morning, Travis Brunner sold 400,000 bushels of wheat and soybeans for clients of his Sunrise AgriBusiness Solutions LLC.
“We sold half in Colorado and the other half was scattered throughout Kansas,” said Brunner, owner and CEO of Sunrise. “The wheat went to a flour mill, and the beans went to a soy crush plant and a local elevator.”
Helping farmers in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas to sell their farm commodities is one of the services that Sunrise offers from its newly purchased and remodeled offices at 201 W. 11th St. in Hays.
Clients are 160 farms ranging from as small as 650 acres to as large as tens of thousands of acres, Brunner said, with Sunrise managing 120 million bushels of grain.
Sunrise, an ag consulting firm, provides tailored management to enrich the producers and ranchers it serves, helping manage their risk selling the cash commodities they raise. Sunrise takes a whole-farm approach to diversify risk, from sitting down with lenders or helping with cash flow and break-even analysis to reviewing on-farm storage and providing tailored updates on markets.
“We help them make good sound marketing decisions through helping manage the day-to-day decisions for the goods they produce,” Brunner said.
Sunrise also does cash grain buying; selling to processors and end users, such as ethanol plants, feedlots and flour mills; and using third-party trucking companies contracted to pick up and transport wheat, corn, beans and other commodities. It also offers trading as a licensed commodity futures brokerage.
Sunrise has two employees in Hays and is hiring more, with one employee each at satellite offices in Salina and Leoti.
“We’re allowing our sales professionals to live where they want to live and be a part of the local community,” Brunner said. “We’re enriching our clients’ farming operations and bringing value to them, but ... the small towns need companies like us to call those small towns home. ... I think it means a lot to the farmer-customer, it’s important to the small-town grocery stores, the churches, the schools, all of that. We want to be a part of the local community.”
Putting its headquarters in downtown Hays is part of that, Brunner said.
The exterior of the office was re-sided with brick. Friends helped completely remodel the interior. Office furnishings trace to Hays and the local area, including old barn wood on the walls from a family farm and a Plainville farmer, to a couch and armchair from The Furniture Look, Christmas decor styling by Regeena’s Flowers, and a photo of Brunner’s grandfather, a Marion County farmer, framed by Mad Matter Frame Shop.
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Brunner’s wife, Laura, was a Staab from Hays. They met and married while attending Fort Hays State University in the late 1990s, where he earned an ag business degree.
His 17-year career with Cargill took them through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas in sales, risk management and merchandising. In 2015, Midland Marketing Coop Inc. brought them back, with Brunner as a merchandiser and a marketing adviser.
Then in August, Brunner left Midland and started Sunrise, with some minor equity from private investors, as well as a local co-op and a major grain company.
The idea is to supply tailored recommendations and personalized guidance, factoring in where the farmer is located and their logistics.
“We’ll just help them on the timing, how and when and where to sell,” Brunner said. “Our job isn’t really to disrupt where they’d normally deliver grain to, we’re just helping them on the timing of the sale to help increase their revenue stream.”