The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) was proud to present charter member Bill Colton with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest accolade that the organization can give to recognize not only someone’s service to NEAFA, but to the entire agricultural industry throughout their career during the 2019 Annual Meeting. “Bill Colton is very deserving of this award,” said Rick Zimmerman, NEAFA Executive Director. “It’s hard to think of anyone else that has worked as hard to promote and advance agribusiness more than Bill, and we wish him the best in his retirement.”
Colton retired at the end of December from Mercer Milling, where he was the owner from 1989-2016, and the president until December. “We manufacture custom vitamin and mineral pre-mixes and sell specialty products predominately in the northeast,” said Colton. “I’ve always liked to tell people that we’re like a one a day for a dairy cow,” he laughed.
Colton’s history with Mercer Milling goes farther back then his tenure as owner and president. His father, James Colton, bought Mercer in 1965. -“Back then it was a feed and flour mill in Baldwinsville, NY,” said Colton It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Colton and his father got Mercer into making pre-mixes. When his father passed away, Colton took over the reins and guided the company in new profitable directions.
“There’s been a lot of changes, in the industry,” laughed Colton. “Basically the size of the farms have increased, the way cows were fed back then in the 70’s versus currently - everyone is trying to maximize output and yields for milk protein and butterfats, and the science behind that has advanced along with all the different new products that are coming out on the market.”
For Colton, embracing those changes were a defining part of his career. “My proudest moment,” said Colton, “is being able to take Mercer Milling from a place where everything was labor intensive and manual, and bringing it to having one of the fullest automated pre-mix plants in the Northeast.”
Colton’s involvement with NEAFA began with the merger of Eastern Federation of Feed Merchants (EFFM, an organization of feed manufacturers in NY), and New England Feed and Grain to create NEAFA. Colton started with EFFM in 1992, and was the president at the time of the merger. “It was pretty exciting times to see that come together.”
Going forward with retirement, Colton is hoping to “get out and enjoy life by doing some traveling and playing some golf. I’m definitely planning on putting together a team for the Golf for Good Works tournament.”