Purchase photos

Great Plains hosts foreign dealers


ASSARIA (MCT) -- Employees of Great Plains Manufacturing and many of the company's worldwide network of dealers have converged on Salina to learn more about the company, its equipment and how it can benefit farmers.

In all, 104 people from 22 countries are visiting, said Daniel Rauchholz, president of the Great Plains international division, including people from Russia, China, Mexico, Ukraine and France.

"The reason we're successful is we offer value-added service," Rauchholz said. "Not just equipment but ag solutions, ways farmers can increase yields and decrease input costs."

On Thursday, Rauchholz said, the group toured Great Plains' facility in Abilene, and on Friday they visited the plant in Assaria and saw a field demonstration of some of the company's equipment.

"We were showing how to improve soil, including how to break up compaction," Rauchholz said. "It's important that our people and our dealers know what equipment to recommend, and how to set the machines for maximum benefit."

Great Plains hosts a similar event every two years in Kansas City, mostly for its North American dealers, but Rauchholz said this is just the fifth time it has hosted an international group.

Largest group ever

"This is the largest group we've ever had like this," he said.

Great Plains provided visitors with small receivers and earphones, while translators with each group spoke into transmitters to explain what the guides were saying, and relaying questions and answers.

Rauchholz said overseas sales amount to about 20 percent of revenue.

"It's down in Ukraine this year, because of the war there," he said. "But in other parts of the world, it's up enough that we're forecasting overall sales will be about the same as last year -- that's the value of diversification."

Improved technology

The company is also constantly improving its technology, Rauchholz said, explaining that one new seed drill uses technology initially developed by a British subsidiary, which Great Plains bought in 2010.

"It's given us some great cross-pollination of ideas," he said.

One point Rauchholz said he hoped dealers would come away with was the company's commitment to research and development and continually improving its products.

One demonstration was of seed wheels, which are supposed to ensure evenly spaced seeds during planting; one Russian dealer asked how well the wheels worked with sunflower seeds.

Brent Nelson, who works in the seed lab, said sunflower seed was a challenge, because of the shape.

"I want them to work better also," he told the dealer. "We're working on it."

-- Reporter Mike Strand can be reached at 822-1418 or by email at mstrand@salina.com.


(c)2014 The Salina Journal (Salina, Kan.)