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Managing Growth with CAT Squared

3 min read

From Africa to Arkansas, software application maker CAT Squared has had quite a journey. Incorporated in Arkansas while based in Mena in 1996, then moving to Conway in 2000, CAT Squared actually has its roots in South Africa, where Stefan Schoeman and the late Mike Sardinha decided to form their own company after working in automation. They were joined by current CAT Squared CEO Vernon Smith. The new business was focused on automation specializing in food, pharmaceuticals and breweries and went international to capitalize on a larger market. In six-month intervals, the three founders moved to Arkansas, and CAT Squared has grown to include 48 employees. “I arrived in the U.S. with little more than a few suitcases and aspirations,” Smith said. “Over the decades, our company has grown to the point where we are supporting customers across the globe.” Focusing on protein processing and primarily serving the poultry industry, CAT Squared connects previously disconnected islands of data from machines and other software applications across a processing plant.

Who is your customer base?

Six of the 10 largest turkey companies and five of the 10 largest chicken companies in the U.S. use CAT Squared software. Whenever you go into a grocery store, you’re likely buying at least one product that has somehow been touched by our system.

What are some highlights of your company’s growth?

After a successful pilot project in 2013 at a poultry plant in South America, we became the vendor of choice for one of the largest food producers in the world. Since then, anytime one of their poultry operations wants to upgrade their plant floor system, it must be with CAT Squared. We’ve implemented in dozens of their plants in Latin America, South America, the UK, Europe, the Philippines and China, and we continue to grow with them.

In 2016, CAT Squared was recognized with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade by [Gov.] Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas District Export Council (ArDEC).

In 2018, we joined the CTB, Inc. family of brands. CTB is a global designer, manufacturer and marketer of agricultural systems and solutions. This has opened the door for close collaboration with our sister brands like Meyn and Cabinplant, who supply hardware and machinery to poultry and other industries.

What have been some of the biggest challenges?

Managing growth has always been a challenge. Our founders never believed in taking on debt, so our growth has been managed organically without relying on outside financing.

The work we do is highly technical and done in challenging environments within the processing plants. Many of our implementation teams are on the road more than 60% of the time. The potential for burnout is an issue we face regularly.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments of the past year?

In January, we launched a new product line with our sister companies. CYNERGY™ is a cloud-based solution collecting data from CTB systems involved in each step of the food supply chain. Any hardware solution developed by a CTB-brand company will be fitted with IoT sensors that seamlessly communicate with CAT Squared’s solutions. This data can be used to train AI models for machine learning and process optimization, give farmers access to environmental conditions in their grain silos or chicken houses, provide accurate growth predictions for flocks and ultimately make the supply chain safer, more efficient and more resilient.

What’s on the horizon/goals for the near future?

Currently, we’re working with our sister companies to build the CYNERGY™ brand. We plan to launch our first joint pilot project between CAT Squared, Meyn and Cabinplant in a new state-of-the-art processing facility in Saudi Arabia.

We are also very proud of the work we’re doing with the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) as part of its Protein PACT initiative. Protein PACT (for the People, Animals and Climate of Tomorrow) is a 10-year initiative uniting partners across animal protein to accelerate the entire sector’s progress toward global sustainable development goals for healthy people, healthy animals, healthy communities and a healthy environment.

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