Horizon Ag/Pioneer Seed outgrows old building

MERNA - - A new office building with a focus on Ag, located on state Highway 2 between Broken Bow and Merna, is now open and operational. A vision of Joe and Deb Grantzinger, the building itself features an entrance area complete with reception and ag displays, four large offices, a large conference room, a break room, handicap bathroom facilities and a 60 x 150-foot warehouse.The warehouse is where Joe stores the corn and soybeans and where the soybeans are treated. More soybeans are being planted today and that was one of the factors considered when Joe built the building. Deb, Joe’s wife, did the majority of the design work for the office areas. Grantzinger said, quite frankly, his business, Pioneer Seeds, outgrew their Quonset. They needed the space. They had the opportunity to purchase the land from the Co-op, so they did. Joe said he also thought it would be nice to have someone else share the space … and in turn, increase the traffic into the building. He describes the partnership with Horizon Ag as a win-win. “I knew they were looking for a place to locate, so I gave them a call,” said Joe of his call to Horizon Ag in Gothenburg. “We talked for about 45 minutes about what they were looking for. We didn’t even need to sign any paperwork until the very end.” Joe started selling Pioneer seeds in a partnership with his father. That was 38 years ago. His father started selling seed corn in the 1940s. Back then seed was sold in 65 pound bags which had to be handled by hand. “We used to get the high school kids to help us unload,” he said. Now the seed is sold by the box, each box holding 50 bags with the soybeans weighing around 2,500 pounds. Joe said he services a territory of around 20 square miles. The biggest change is that everything moves so much faster today brought on by the size of equipment used on the farm and the volume of seed bought and sold. Some of the seed he sells goes out by the truckload. “The yield along with the price have increased,” he added. The average seed variety lasts three to four years before it is replaced. Over the last 50-60 years, the bushel yields have increased around three bushels per year, mainly because the farmers are able to plant the crops thicker. Drought hybrids are now being introduced that will be able to be grown with less water. His busiest season kicks in after harvest is over and lasts through the end of May. They do have an early order program. Each year he has fall meetings to supply the harvest data; the yield results, he said, are what drives the bus. The warehouse in the new building has provided an easy place to get in and out of. He also believes the new location will be easier for his customers. “Our customers are our most important segment of the business,” he noted. Chip Bullock, Horizon Ag Regional manager, said location and the convenience for the customer is also key for the companies he represents. Horizon Ag sold parts out of RedLine Equipment for years, said Bullock. February 1 they moved into the new building. Through Horizon Ag, he also represents Valley Irrigation equipment and Sioux Grain Bins. “Anything that has to do with irrigation and grain handling equipment,” he noted. Bullock’s background includes Farmland Feed Mill in Gothenburg where he served as a supervisor, and as a representative for competitive irrigation equipment brands. He’s been Horizon Ag’s regional manager since November 2010. Horizon Ag offers sales of equipment, and full service repair and parts. Horizon Ag is open Monday – Friday from 8-5 and also on Saturdays this time of year. This is their busiest time of year with service calls. In winter they are busiest with sales. “Late fall the company offers its best incentives to buy, with a National sales campaign launched right after the first of the year to introduce new technology. One of the technologies, Chip explained, was variable rate irrigation. This is the ability to map the soil types in the field, enter that data into the control panel and have the data dictate the irrigation needed. The technology can be placed on new or used units as an upgrade. “I feel this is huge up here because of the variable soil types, even in the same field,” he said. It is GPS controlled, which means the farmer can control the unit from his/her home computer. “You can even control it from a Smart Phone,” he added. Horizon Ag has three full time employees. “Through the Gothenburg office, we have access to the equipment to complete any kind of service work, to take care of whatever you need,” added Chip. The building, Joe said, took around one year to build from inception to finish. GC Contracting out of Arcadia was the general contractor.