Ryan Kuster, parts and manufacturing department manager for Cheney-based Ag Enterprise Supply Inc., says he’s noticed fewer companies offer custom fabrication these days.
“It does require more care, effort, and time,” says Kuster.
In contrast, Ag Enterprise Supply’s parts and manufacturing department has gained traction and has grown into a substantial portion of the company’s business, says Gary Farrell, company president. This year, Farrell expects the department’s revenue will grow another 10 percent.
Last year, the parts and manufacturing department accounted for $3.1 million of the Ag Enterprise Supply’s $13.9 million overall revenue. For 2018, Farrell projects the company’s revenue to be more than $14 million.
Kuster says the department custom manufactures, repairs, and upgrades road-spraying and agricultural equipment, such as liquid applicators and tilling gear.
Ag Enterprise Supply’s parts and manufacturing department mainly fabricates liquid road deicers and liquid herbicide applicators throughout the Pacific Northwest, including devices used by the Washington state
Department of Transportation and a number of municipalities, says Kuster. In 2017, the company manufactured 65 total pieces, 20 of which were liquid road deicers and liquid herbicide applicators.
Some agricultural equipment Ag Enterprise Supply manufactures includes carts that use air for seed planting and carts that pump liquid fertilizer onto soil. For the landscape industry, the company develops pickup-mounted sprayers. The company also has worked with the golf and turf industries to create specialized sprayers that can go on existing utility carts.
Kuster says implementation of mapping systems and other technology has increased in the area. GPS technology enables people to keep track of where they’ve already sprayed so that they don’t waste product.
Some of the most commonly sprayed products Ag Enterprise Supply works with are herbicides, for example. Using less product through GPS-assisted application reduces the impact of herbicides on the environment, he says.
GPS equipment has been used for more than a decade in agriculture, says Kuster, but it has grown in popularity recently in other industries.
Although Ag Enterprise Supply doesn’t manufacture the mapping technology, Kuster says the company can manufacture components that use it.
Six full-time employees, including two fabricators, work in the parts and manufacturing department, he says.
Mainly working with steel, Ag Enterprise Supply manufactures equipment ranging from a 5-gallon spray unit to attach to a lawnmower to a 30,000-pound, tractor-pulled cart. Typical lead time for a piece of equipment ranges from four to six weeks, but that can vary depending on the particular project, says Kuster. Depending on their components and size, custom deicers can range in price from $4,000 to $30,000, says Kuster.
For agriculture, “we usually encourage people to come talk to us in fall or early winter so we can make sure they’re taken care of by spring,” he says.
Headquartered at 17005 W. state Route 904, in Cheney, Ag Enterprise Supply also provides agricultural production products and supplies for local farmers and others, says Farrell.
The company occupies about 23,000 square feet of space at its headquarters, including a roughly 4,000-square-foot truck-maintenance shop for the company’s own trucks. The manufacturing area, including space for the sales and production, occupies about 8,000 square feet, he says. The company has 23 full-time employees and has a second location in Wilbur, Wash.
“We’re an independently owned company, and the farm community likes having somebody that’s independent to service their needs,” claims Farrell.
Looking forward, Farrell projects the adoption of new technology will continue to grow. Ag Enterprise Supply’s customer base includes Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. The company also has shipped equipment to Alaska and California.
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