Drainage Contractor

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Staying on top of demand

For many drainage contractors, building good relationships with their product suppliers is an important key to success.


May 6, 2021
Sponsored
by Advanced Drainage Systems

Topics
Photo courtesy of Advanced Drainage Systems.

The demand for water management systems has gone up in recent months, thanks in part to rising agriculture prices that have meant more money in the bank for farmers.

Ryan Yokiel, owner of Ground Works Backhoe Service in Janesville, MN, says his business has definitely benefitted from the growing number of producers who see drainage tiling in their fields as a sound investment.  

“Demand is high right now. Crop prices are pretty good, so farmers are wanting to improve their land to get their high yields. And the best way you can do that is to put your money into tiling versus buying equipment or sheds and grain bins,” says Yokiel. “With the wet springs and falls that we’ve been having, they really see that benefit of tile.”

Bob Clark II, head of the Land Improvement Contractors of America, agrees the uptick in prices for agriculture products has helped fuel demand for subsurface drainage on farms.

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“I believe the primary motivator for farmers to install these systems is because it improves production agriculture. They’ll spend a dollar to make 10 or 20 cents,” says Clark, whose own business, Clark Farm Drainage in New Castle, IN, services mostly farm customers.

“There is some empirical evidence that strongly suggests that when you manage the air-water balance in the soil profile, you can get bigger, more consistent yields,” he adds. “The increase in commodity prices increases their ROI, and that’s really what gets a lot of growers to make the investment in capital improvements with a water table management system.”

Darla Huff is the agricultural market manager for Advanced Drainage Systems, a leading supplier of tile and other water management products for the agricultural and commercial markets. Huff says the company has ramped up its production capabilities and is investing heavily to keep up with demand for subsurface drainage products. 

“This past fiscal year, we invested over $80 million in capital expenditures to expand our capacity and production, and will be spending another $100 million in the coming fiscal year,” she says. 

“Farmers must continue doing more with less. Our land is finite, but we have a growing world population to feed. So how do you become more efficient and increase yields?” she asks. “Water management has proven to do this, and more and more farmers are seeing the economic benefits of tiling.”

Huff adds a heightened focus on water quality and water recycling in farming is another reason for the growing popularity of tiling systems. She adds the increased frequency of severe weather events has become an important consideration for many farmers.

“We’ve seen a lot of unique rainfall and snow events that have caused flooding in areas that have never flooded before, so drainage is becoming a necessity,” she says.

Eric Brown, a second-generation contractor from eastern Iowa, forecasts upcoming business needs with his ADS sales rep.Photo courtesy of Advanced Drainage Systems.

Preparing for increased demand
With increased demand naturally comes the need for manufacturers to implement operational and technological advances. One example is ADS’s new Pin Drop capability, enabling them to deliver products precisely where they’re needed — a feature that Clark says helps contractors run at their most productive pace during tiling projects.

In addition to utilizing technologies like Pin Drop, Huff’s advice for contractors is to focus on business planning and forecasting with their sales reps. For ADS, Huff says working together closely increases its visibility into a client’s business needs — which is essential as the market continues to grow.

“We would tell you to make sure you’re planning with your sales rep ahead of time the best that you can, just to make sure that your orders are in the system and that you’re able to get everything you require — the right product, at the right time, in the right place,” she says.

Yokiel says contractors who can communicate effectively with both suppliers and their customers stand to benefit in times like this when there’s a supply squeeze and demand continues to grow.

He notes ADS is his primary supplier, and he believes his loyalty has been recognized through the service he receives and being able to have open, upfront discussions about supply availability. 

“You want to try to keep everybody on the same page and having a good relationship with your sales rep is an important part of that,” says Yokiel. “ADS has always been great to me with having the supply we need, when we need it.”

Like Yokiel, Clark counts on ADS as one of his main suppliers.  

“That’s the thing about working with one vendor. You try to collaborate for the mutual benefit of both the supplier and, in our case, the purchaser. We want to help them help us, so we try to make it a win/win situation,” he says. “It’s kind of a team effort.”

Clark says it’s helpful that his ADS sales rep will check in regularly to see what his company’s future supply requirements will be.

“We always try to make sure we give them as much advance notice as we can to help them make the best planning decisions they can,” he says, adding that the communication goes both ways.

“They’ve always kept us in the loop, and they’ve continued to provide us product in a timely manner. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” says Clark.

“No other manufacturer is producing more agricultural or commercial pipe products than ADS,” says Huff. “As the market leader, we are dedicated to investing into maximizing production and leading the response to this unprecedented demand, now and in the years to come.”

For more information, visit adspipe.com