Ted Huisinga and Ray Norling

x2013 Production Agriculture

Ted Huisinga and Ray Norling have been at the forefront of the Minnesota turkey industry’s growth since the 1960s. Today they lead 12 affiliated companies that employ more than 1,500 people across the country and do business on six continents.

Over the past five decades Ted Huisinga and Ray Norling have built Willmar Poultry Company (WPC), a business started by Huisinga's uncle and Norling’s father in 1945, into the world’s leading turkey hatchery. Their success has been achieved through innovation, technology and visionary management. 

Huisinga is a state and national leader on turkey health issues. His forty-plus-year involvement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Poultry Improvement Plan and the Minnesota Board of Animal Health has led to the implementation of model disease prevention, surveillance and response programs. Norling has provided leadership for the businesses, most recently handling organizational matters for various subsidiaries. Both are past presidents of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. In 2007 the National Turkey Federation recognized them with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Following a devastating fire in 1978 that threatened the company’s existence, Huisinga and Norling built from the ashes a state-of-the-art hatchery that incorporated advanced computer technology. They were the first in the industry to use computerized environmental controls in hatching operations, and these efforts produced the best hatching results of any major turkey hatchery in the United States. Today WPC produces 45 million eggs and hatches 100 million poults.

In 2005, Life-Science Innovations, the umbrella organization for Huisinga's and Norling's business units, and Nova-Tech Engineering aligned to form the MinnWest Technology Campus. They purchased a 37-building, 110-acre facility from the state, transforming the land into a scenic workplace that fosters technological advancement. This innovative move blends companies from the biotech, engineering, computer sciences and chemistry industries in a campus-like environment. The atmosphere of the MinnWest Technology Campus encourages cross-company collaboration and supplies abundant space for future growth.