By Tim Leeds
An order of 22 AFC Broadcaster Units is keeping Meissner Tractors Inc. busy through this usually slow season in the farm implement business.
The order is also Meissner's first step into international sales, said Arnold Lalum, the Havre company's general manager. The order, about $200,000 worth, is going to a farming company in Russia.
"It's turning out quite well," Lalum said.
Dan Sinclair, salesman for the Meissner Advanced Farming Center that markets the broadcasters, said this has reversed the employment situation that usually happens in mid-December.
"It's been kind of a boon for us," he said. " we were looking at laying some people off and now we have to hire some workers."
He said they have hired two new full time employees and a couple of part timers, and are looking at hiring one or two more for full time work in January. They have been working on the broadcasters for about three weeks now, Sinclair said.
Lalum said it takes about 90 hours to make each unit. He said they should be shipping out a set of six to eight units in mid-January, with the rest to be shipped out the end of January.
The company has been sharing some of the business in Havre. Sinclair said they have purchased about $12,000 worth of steel from the Havre Pacific Steel & Recycling, and will probably buy a total of about $14,000. They are also working with Central Machine and Welding to manufacture some of the parts needed for the broadcasters.
The broadcaster mounts onto air seeders, allowing agriculture producers to get more use out of the seeders and to spread dry fertilizer without having to purchase an entire separate unit. Sinclair said Uri Zand, who runs the Russian farm operation, was referred to Meissner by an international Flexicoil representative when he purchased 22 airseeders.
Meissner has been in the top 10 companies in the nation for sales of Flexicoil products for more than 10 years in a row.
Sinclair said the order, coming when it does, is quite helpful to Meissner.
"The ag business has been kind of slow all around," he said. "It's (the Russian sale) really been good for us."
Sinclair said they have been selling the AFC units for about two years now. He said there are several producers in the Golden Triangle who have them to allow use of their seeders in the winter and early spring to do soil preparation and top dress winter wheat. He said it has possibilities for future international sales as well.
Lalum also said they might be able to find more sales overseas as well as locally and in the United States and Canada, diversifying the tractor company's sales even more.
"I think there will be some future sales," he said. " It's simple, and it's something, I think if we work it right, market it right, could turn into (good sales)"