Colorado grower, Travis Herget, shares color conversion story

Farming the front range of Colorado isn’t for the faint of heart. Navigating mountain terrain, high elevation and often-difficult, fluctuating temperatures make the right equipment choices especially critical.

Growing corn, alfalfa and triticale near Platteville – a small town 40 miles north of Denver — Travis Hergert takes on unpredictable weather and increasing urban sprawl. The third-generation farmer must constantly seek efficiencies – particularly when it comes to fertilizer application.

“In our area, we are quite aways out from a manure source, so we have to truck it in and stockpile due to sheer distance,” says Hergert. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a manure truck so more and more folks are going to big manure spreaders.”

Maximizing efficiency with the right manure spreader

According to Hergert, a 900-cu ft. spreader can fit 25 tons of manure. While a truck could also hold that amount, he reports more producers in his area are opting for a more-efficient, ready-to-use spreader that can be filled with a front-end loader.

Previously, Hergert and his farming neighbors split the cost of renting an Artex spreader to get the job done. While Hergert reports the Artex spreader was well-built, support wasn’t available for producers unless they could make the drive to Fort Morgan – more than an hour away.

“We were really looking for a machine a local dealer of ours could support,” says Hergert, who patrons 4 Rivers out of Greeley – an 18-mile distance from Platteville. “My dealership mentioned Art’s Way was retooling their manure spreaders and gave me a brochure.”

The comparison between his rented Artex spreader and the Art’s Way spreader was similar when it came to pricing. But the Art’s Way X900 spreader had features that could fit Hergert’s operation well including floating tires and walking beam suspension.

It was then Hergert – a former Denver police officer – decided to do something he had never done before. He ordered the machine on the spot, sight unseen, making the jump from the stark-black Artex to the forest green of Art’s Way.

But the big chance wasn’t without merit.

Recognizable name, local service

“Everyone knows the Art’s Way name around here because of their beet diggers, so we knew and felt good about the brand name while also knowing we’d have local support,” says Hergert.

And that local support became critical not too long after the spreader made its appearance on the Hergert farm. With 120 acres of application left, the machine broke a wheel hub, resulting in a major breakdown in spring 2020 – the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with supply-chain setbacks, 4 Rivers and Art’s Way were able to work together to get Hergert back in the field.

“On the farm, time is money, and it really felt like Art’s Way had a good understanding of that,” shares Hergert. “They stood behind their machine and warranty and supported us when we really needed it,” he says. The on-site Art’s Way support also took the parts to be x-rayed to determine what caused the malfunction.

Hergert’s decision to switch manure spreader brands in 2020 aligns with a Farm Equipment Brand Loyalty survey released that year which showed a decline in farmer-perceived loyalty to brand colors of choice. Of the more than 350 farmers who took the survey, 63% described themselves as brand loyal, a 12-point decline in three years, while 29% described themselves as “less loyal” to their preferred brand compared to five years prior. Just as Hergert prioritized more local service, 94% of growers reported better dealer repair and service as a reason they would switch brands.

Comprehensive dealer service with Art’s Way wasn’t the first time Hergert made the decision to switch. He reports a similar dissatisfaction with Massey Ferguson dealer service, which ultimately led the family to lean on John Deere for other equipment needs.

“We aren’t the ‘brand loyal’ guys where we hang their name on our shop walls,” says Hergert. “We really just look at the products, knowing it boils down to the service they can offer us after the purchase.”

Hergert shares two pieces of advice for others considering a brand switch.

“It’s always a risk, everything you do on the farm is a risk, including a new piece of equipment,” says Hergert. “To mitigate that risk, focus on the reputation of the manufacturer, along with the service and support available.”

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