Drainage Contractor

Features Contractor at Work
Beyond Drainage survey reveals optimism for agricultural drainage industry


April 28, 2020
By Drainage Contractor

Topics
Drainage Contractor wishes to extend its appreciation for everyone that shared their thoughts on the survey. Congratulations to TJ Kaffar with Kaffar Tiling in South Dakota, the winner of the Beyond Drainage Survey cash prize draw!

Over the winter months, Drainage Contractor conducted a Beyond Drainage Survey to see if contractors were diversifying their businesses beyond agricultural drainage. Here is an initial summary of the data collected, with a more comprehensive analysis to come in the future.

Thirty percent of survey respondents were between the ages of 55 and 64, with the second largest group (25 percent) being between 35 and 44. Similar to agriculture, the drainage industry is commonly made up of multi-generational family businesses and this could explain the two largest age groups. A staggering 60 percent of survey respondents said their company has been in business for more than 20 years – again, speaking to the succession of business in the drainage industry. The second largest result, at 15 per cent, was companies that have been operating for 10 to 15 years.

A staggering 60 percent of survey respondents said their company has been in business for more than 20 years – speaking to the succession of business in the drainage industry.

Nearly 92 percent of survey respondents work in agricultural drainage, with minimal (less than four percent) of people also working in municipal, turf and road drainage.

Advertisment

Knowing how many acres a contractor works with in a given year, or how much demand there is in their area, helps understand why a contractor might diversify their business. There was a large range of responses for how many acres one tiles in a year: lowest: 20-40 acres; most common: between 1,000 to 2,000 acres; and highest: 125,000 and 1,000,000 acres.

When not tiling, survey respondents do a variety of other tasks such as: snow removal, ditching, excavating, soil conservation projects, equipment repair, custom farming, ponds, septic systems, consulting, residential drainage, construction, drainage design, tile repair, land levelling, farming (beef, cash crops), trucking, site work/prep, and more.

Most of the projects outside of agricultural drainage are related to land improvement and were found in industries outside of agriculture. These results show that the skills of a contractor are transferrable across industries.

Most of the projects outside of agricultural drainage are related to land improvement and were found in industries outside of agriculture. These results show that the skills of a contractor are transferrable across industries.

When it came to why diversify, most answers centered on making use of equipment year-round, retaining employees, keeping revenue flowing, and an improved client base, including staying top of mind for clients by being more active throughout the year.

Finally, the most interesting question asked survey respondents what they think the drainage industry could look like in 10 years. The answers were diverse but some common themes emerged: a push for more technology use in drainage, a need a more holistic view on water management and the environment that is not solely focused on drainage and more regulations. Some answers were location dependent, with one respondent saying they think the demand for drainage will increase as land prices continue to rise. Another respondent said they think there will be fewer contractors and more farmer-owned machines. A lot of respondents emphasized the need for agricultural drainage to be seen in the larger picture of water management, soil and yield benefit, and the environment. While most of our readers are sticking to agricultural drainage for now, it could mean that the way they make the case for drainage will be what diversifies, explaining tile drainage through multiple perspectives from agronomic to environmental.

The way contractors make the case for drainage could be what diversifies, explaining tile drainage through multiple perspectives from agronomic to environmental.

Drainage Contractor wishes to extend its appreciation for everyone that shared their thoughts on the survey. Congratulations to TJ Kaffar with Kaffar Tiling in South Dakota, the winner of the Beyond Drainage Survey cash prize draw! Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of the survey results.


Print this page

Related

Tags




2 Comments » for Beyond Drainage survey reveals optimism for agricultural drainage industry
  1. The reply’s that said they install 125,000 and 1,000,000 acres is obviously a misunderstanding on their part. They may have installed that many feet of pipe, NOT acres of drainage. Your people should have caught this and questioned their answers.

    • Hi Jon, valid point, thank you for bringing it to our attention. I looked into this: Ohio is 28,687,936 acres, so it’s the equivalent of a contractor tiling 3.5% of Ohio! When we do a deep dive into the data we will keep this in mind and follow up with the specific answer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*