Brim Tractor Company offers what farms of all sizes need

Brim Tractor Company offers what farms of all sizes need

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

Bill Brim was just 22 when he became part owner of his first tractor dealership.

In 1966, he and his wife, Margaret, founded Brim Tractor Company in Lynden, Wash.

Bill Brim brought the first hydraulic-arm Bomford mower into the U.S. from England, transforming the maintenance of roadsides and freeways. The venture was successful; Brim still sells several of the tractor combinations to municipalities every year.

Brim’s sons Bob, Alan and Dave pioneered a new market when they computerized the company in the late 1970s. They formed Dealer Information Systems Corp., now a leading business management software provider to agricultural, construction, truck refrigeration and lift truck dealers throughout North America.

Another son, Dan, purchased the business in 1997 and started expanding it. Today there are six Brim dealerships in Oregon and Washington.

“Working with farmers is fantastic,” said Mike Poston, manager of Brim’s Salem store. “They are essential workers, so we have been able to stay open through the difficult times.”

Also, with more time at home, hobby farmers and residential homeowners are buying equipment at an accelerated pace.

However, Brim’s big focus remains large-scale ag, including the hay and forage, grass seed, hazelnut and wine grape industries.

Their primary lines are New Holland, JBC and Yanmar, with several others to ensure they can meet every customer’s needs.

“The technology required to maintain a machine is almost the same as that needed to maintain a body,” Poston said, “There are many advancements that help you fix equipment quicker, make the machines run smoother and make the customer more money.

“Some of these tractors drive themselves and the attachment behind it tells the tractor what to do,” Poston said. “When you have that kind of technology you need technicians experienced in computers as well as hydraulics, engine systems and powertrain systems.”

Brim also cultivates technicians.

“We partner with several colleges and universities; we say they go to college to get their basics and come to Brim for their master’s and doctorate degrees,” Poston said. “The amount of training you’re going to get coming to work for a dealership is incredible.

“To have younger people coming in who are already so familiar with computers is a breath of fresh air and a fun situation to be in,” Poston said. “Our leading-edge service is part of the Brim advantage and we want every customer to have the Brim experience.”

Representatives of Brim will be available during the Northwest Ag Show to discuss the needs of visitors.

Aglink tells ag’s story one classroom at a time

Aglink tells ag's story one classroom at a time

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

Established in 1966 as the Agribusiness Council, Oregon Aglink still works to bridge the gap between urban and rural Oregonians.

“We are trying to bring all parts of agriculture together and help people not working in these spaces to understand what is happening around the state,” Aglink Executive Director Mallory Phelan said. “We’re a large, diverse board from all across the state and covering a lot of different commodities grown in Oregon along with folks from the professional service sector.”

One of the longest-running outreaches of Aglink is the crop identification signs in front of vast fields of such crops and livestock as red clover, radish seed and beef cattle. In partnership with Oregon Women for Agriculture, Oregon Aglink has placed more than 200 signs along the state’s most traveled highways.

Whereas crop identification signs help travelers gain more insight into agriculture, another Oregon Aglink program actually brings students out to farms and ranches.

The Adopt a Farmer program is where most of the nonprofit’s fund-raising monies are applied. The program is in its 10th year.

Adopt a Farmer matches middle school classrooms with farms and ranches around the state for a whole school year, funding field trips and facilitating classroom visits by the farmer.

“We do activities that relate to what they’re learning in school,” Phelan said. “They may go to a dairy and learn all about that and then in their math class we might do a graph of milk production.

“The whole idea is to establish a relationship between students and farmers,” Phelan said. “It’s nothing like a visit to the pumpkin patch. It’s more a behind-the-scenes look at how this farm works.”

Being on a farm is a “very memorable experience” for most people, she said.

“In the past 10 years we’ve reached over 20,000 students from Portland to Medford,” Phelan said. “We ultimately want people to have a positive experience that helps them realize that things don’t just show up in the grocery store, and I think the pandemic really highlighted that when some things ran out.

“Having to do things by internet has very much contributed to that disconnect; people rarely even go to the grocery store anymore; they just click things on the screen and it shows up on their doorstep,” Phelan said.

“In prior generations farmers didn’t have to explain what they were doing.”

As part of the Northwest Ag Show, Oregon Aglink will be available to answer questions farmers and ranchers might have and suggest ways they can become involved.

Pacific Building Systems sells directly to farmers

Pacific Building Systems sells directly to farmers

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 was the driving force behind Pacific Building Systems, which is still going strong after nearly six decades.

“My grandfather, Fletcher Prince, and three of his friends wanted to help out local farmers with rebuilding,” Nick Prince said. “They started a repair business — Truss-T Structures — and would go out and fix or rebuild their barns and other structures.

“They figured it would take a couple years and then they’d have to go find other jobs,” Prince said, “but they started getting new projects and it took off from there.”

Still based in Woodburn, Ore., Pacific Building Systems is a third-generation business owned by Prince, Sandy Trahan and Kailong Luo, the head engineer.

In the early 1980s the business stopped doing onsite construction to focus on manufacturing.

Employing a crew of about 50, PBS is now spread over 7 acres. Over the past 60 years the company has manufactured more than 10,000 metal and steel structures for the industrial, commercial, agricultural, aviation, government and community sectors.

“Our family-owned, full-service facility includes design, drafting and engineering as well as fabrication and shipping and a comprehensive components department,” Trahan said. “We are able to do some complex things according to each customer’s specific needs.”

As in generations past, independence, flexibility and easy access are among the things that set PBS apart.

“We sell direct to the farmer and help him where he needs it, start to finish — and that is an advantage to our customer base and to us,” Trahan said.

“Another thing that makes us unique and that we are very proud of is having in-house Certified Weld Inspectors,” Trahan said. “This requires us to have the CWIs on site to teach our guys and to inspect the welds and make sure that we were running a top-tier program.

“This includes all of the materials we bring in and our drafting and engineering services,” he added. “It requires us to record everything we do and takes a lot of work, time, energy and money, but it keeps us accountable to our customers and to each other.

“We see each prefabricated metal kit as more than just a building,” Trahan said. “They provide places for people to gather, shop, work, worship, or play — so we use the latest technology and highest-quality materials and work closely with every customer.

“We love to look at a building and say, ‘That’s ours.’”

Representatives of Pacific Building Systems will be available during the Northwest Ag Show to answer any questions and discuss any upcoming building projects.

Dr. Jimz supplements just what a crop needs

Dr. Jimz supplements just what a crop needs

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

Not everybody fulfills a lifelong ambition but Jim Zamzow of Boise, Idaho, has done just that. Developing a chain of 12 garden centers in the Boise area and his own line of soil supplements does not compare with the satisfaction of fulfilling his decades-long goal of developing what he calls the world’s most perfect fertilizer.

“Jim has learned from the best,” Dr. JimZ Director of Marketing Lars Knutsen said. “This guy is not guessing about anything. There have been several test batches over the years, and he believes that Chicken Soup for the Soil is perfect. In the two years since coming to market it has accumulated nearly 30,000 customers, a number we expect will quadruple this year.”

Chicken Soup for the Soil is not just any fertilizer, he said.

“It looks like a liquid but seen under a microscope it’s actually made of microscopic nutrient clusters that start moving around,” Knutsen said. “They are colloidal, so they bind to the soil’s organic matter, are non-leaching and over time accumulate in the soil.”

“In order for plants to reach their full genetic potential, the microbes have to sit at the table first,” Knutsen said. “This product contains all the nutrients and trace minerals we can get and is easy for the microbes to consume. It really wakes up the soil and allows plants to decide what nutrients they want and when they want to use them.”

Fermented into compost tea and further diluted, Chicken Soup makes an effective foliar spray.

“The cool thing about foliar application is that it creates biological exclusion on the leaf,” Knutsen said. “Bugs and disease just aren’t entertained by it.”

Zamzow demonstrates the effectiveness of his products on his own farm, where he uses no pesticides on 50 acres of apples and plums. The heavy doses of Chicken Soup applied to last year’s apple trees resulted in a crop so heavy the fruit reached the ground, yet not a single limb was broken.

Chicken Soup for the Soil was preceded by the successful Tomato Secret and Tree Secret soil amendments.

An experiment using Tomato Secret and Chicken Soup exceeded everyone’s expectations, resulting in an Early Girl tomato plant climbing upward through a 17-foot cage.

“Hundreds and hundreds of pounds of tomatoes came off it,” Knutsen said.

The company is eager to see the response at this year’s Northwest Ag Show.

“The tone in Oregon is toward more natural if not organic products,” Knutsen said. “What really gets me excited is that, if anywhere, the Willamette Valley is ready for this stuff.”

Equilus Capital Partners advises clients on investment strategies

Equilus Capital Partners advises clients on investment strategies

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

Joel Frank formed Equilus Capital Partners in 2015 after being advised by a previous employer that the company was going to be sold.

As a financial adviser, Frank had observed in the portfolios he managed that, historically, REITs (real estate investment trusts) outperformed the stock and bond markets.

He is now in partnership with Paul Bondo in the Wenatchee, Wash.-based Equilus Capital Partners.

“Joel’s vision for the company was to grow a multi-generation legacy from a sustainable model where all the players thrive,” said Rhonda Frank, his wife and vice president of marketing and business development.

Equilus Capital Partners, a private capital equity firm, analyzes and procures income-producing real estate ventures throughout the Pacific Northwest. Property is held in a REIT, and the underlying assets are owned entirely by the investors.

Investors receive their share of 90% of the income produced in quarterly dividends. Tax deductions from expenses and other tax benefits are also passed on to investors.

“Our clients have worked hard to build their nest eggs,” Rhonda Frank said. “Our team is dedicated to preserving our clients’ wealth and providing tax-advantaged growth and stability through income-generating real estate opportunities.”

“We provide education and resources for a variety of strategies that help investors access the real estate and deferral of capital gains tax on the sale of certain highly appreciated assets,” she said.

Other products include UPREITs (Umbrella Partnership Real Estate Investment Trusts), installment sales trusts and self-directed IRAs.

“At the show, we will present our REIT opportunities and highlight one of our capital gains tax deferral strategies, the 721 UPREIT Exchange,” Frank said.

With 50% of their clientele in the ag sector, Equilus has also helped farmers with succession planning for many years. They assist clients in buying and selling businesses, business transitions, farm estate planning and capital gains tax deferral.

“What makes us different is the depth of knowledge and experience shared by the team,” Frank said. “Joel’s background is in ranching and he has firsthand knowledge of many of the challenges that farmers and ranchers face.

“Our management team sources investment opportunities through acquisitions and joint-ventures with real estate developers to create a robust and diverse portfolio,” Frank said.

“We love working with the ag community, and we speak their language,” she said.

Holt Ag Solutions expands into Oregon

Holt Ag Solutions expands into Oregon

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

Holt Ag Solutions got its start in 1931 as a Caterpillar equipment dealer in Marysville, Calif. Eighty-nine years later, the company has evolved, changed and grown.

In 2011 Holt of California decided to separate the ag side of the business from the Caterpillar business.

Now, Holt Ag Solutions is a CLAAS and AGCO dealer.

The company began its expansion into the Pacific Northwest in 2019. It now has 12 locations in California and Oregon.

“Between the two states we have quite a variety of crops — dairy and hay down in Merced; rice in Northern California and then the Willamette Valley is the Grass Seed Capital of the World,” Vice President Eric Williamson said. “…Central Oregon, Klamath Basin — each area has its specialties.”

Many crops utilize much of the same equipment, but configured differently.

At the Northwest Ag Show, good attendance and increasing brand awareness through effective interactions with attendees are among Holt Ag Solutions’ top goals.

“Some of the products we sell lead the industry in technologies,” Sales Director Randy Grimes said. “Our Fendt products, as well as our application equipment, utilize advanced GPS technology and communication, and we spend a lot of time training our sales and service people in how to maximize the utilization of those products.”

The high-horsepower Fendt tractors also have the capability to fully steer on RTK — real time kinematics — to the sub-inch, allowing basically hands-free operation, Grimes said.

“It requires an operator in the cab but can be configured to fully operate multiple functions without steering or pushing the buttons to operate an implement,” he said.

“We’ve had several customers adopt that technology just in the last 18 months,” Grimes said. “It is relatively new and very cutting edge.”

Fendt is a German company relatively new to North America.

“It is a world-leading manufacturer with world-leading technology,” Williamson said. “They have been looking for very high-quality, high-performing dealers to support the product because it requires a very engaged dealer to support a very high-end product.”

“This is the first year we will be able to sell that brand and we’ve had several presales for 2021, so you’ll see a lot more of them out in the field,” Williamson added.

Each Fendt tractor comes with a three-year, 3,000-hour, bumper-to-bumper warranty so the customers don’t have any other inputs other than the actual purchase price, their fuel and their operator, he said.

“That’s a value-added differentiator for us; something that helps set us apart,” he said.

Visit with representatives of Holt Ag anytime during the Northwest Ag Show.

Ag in the Classroom pivots to take advantage of high-tech ‘silver linings’

Ag in the Classroom pivots to take advantage of high-tech 'silver linings'

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

COVID-19 hasn’t been able to hinder Oregon Ag in the Classroom’s mission to help students grow their knowledge of agriculture.

“There are several different ways we do that, and we have been able to convert them all to virtual, so it’s been a really exciting year for us,” said Jessica Jansen, executive director of the Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. “It actually opened up some opportunities we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

For instance, during a recent virtual “field trip” to TMK Creamery dozens of students would never have been able to crowd into the cheese-making area, but a video camera could go places the students couldn’t.

“They see a little more than they probably would be able to see, so there are silver linings to this style,” Jansen said.

The number of students who can go on virtual “field trips” is almost unlimited.

“The Zoom call where we visited an Oregon Christmas tree farm and then a citrus orchard in Arizona had over 3,000 students connected,” she said.

The logistics of going virtual is also easier on the farmers, she said.

“It is also a fairly low commitment when you compare having 1,000 students out to your farm for an all-day event to spending an hour, hour-and-a-half making a video,” Jansen said.

Within the agricultural community there is an eagerness to share with students, Jansen said.

When the spring Literacy Program — volunteers visiting classrooms — was nixed, Ag in the Classroom didn’t miss a beat, having volunteers meet the students on a virtual platform.

Ag in the Classroom also offers an extensive lending library and a database of lesson plans for teachers.

“We are a nonprofit program existing 100% on donations and grants, and it is because of the generosity of the agricultural community that we’re able to do these things,” she said.

This year they are also offering the Specialty Crop Subscription Program, providing third- to fifth-grade students with monthly boxes featuring a different Oregon crop, such as cranberries during the winter holidays.

“That’s been popular because the teachers don’t have to come up with the supplies on their own and they’re fun, hands-on activities that people are largely missing with virtual education,” Jansen said. “We have a small team and I’m really proud of all that we’ve accomplished.

“We had it planned in a completely different way so it’s taken a lot of flexibility to pivot everything to a digital format that teachers can really use,” Jansen said. “We’ve been really intentional about that every time we developed a lesson.

“That’s what is most helpful to them as they navigate this time.”

Ag show visitors can talk with representatives of Oregon Ag in the Classroom, who will be happy to discuss the programs and how to get involved.

If a farmer needs it, GK Machine can build it

If a farmer needs it, GK Machine can build it

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

Gary Grossen has always had a knack for fixing things.

It was known around town that if something broke, Gary could fix it.

“Gary was kind of the genius machinist,” said Connie Lindsay, GK Machine Co.’s communications and marketing director. “He got his journeyman’s machinist certification in high school.”

In the meantime, Keith, his brother, worked on the engineering side of the operation.

“Keith would draw it and Gary would machine it,” Lindsay said.

Once Gary told a farmer, “I’m going to make you a piece of machinery you can’t break.”

That’s when he started building his own equipment. In 1976, the brothers opened GK Machine in the tiny town of Donald, Ore., not far from the dairy farm where they grew up.

In its early days GK Machine consisted of 45-50 employees in one small building. It has since grown to nearly 200 employees in four buildings totaling 177,000 square feet.

“We have a whole line of agricultural equipment we manufacture and sell direct,” Lindsay said. “We also fabricate industrial equipment for about 60 OEM manufacturers who brand them for sale to the public.”

And that’s not all, she said.

“We design equipment for farmers every day; there is never a dull moment around here,” Lindsay said. “We have 20-25 people in our machine division and another 30 fabricators, a paint staff of 10 or 12 and about 10 people in repair plus office staff.”

Several employees are Grossens, and though Keith has retired, Gary remains in the thick of things.

GK also has a stable of 22 engineers, and at any given time there will be 750-800 jobs on the floor. They are currently building six robotic harvesters for a California customer.

“We’re also using vision robotics where the camera takes a picture of the plant and a picture of the weed and the cultivator takes out the weeds and leaves the plants,” Lindsay said. “There is some really cool technology we’re embracing here at GK, because we think that’s the future of farming.”

GK’s oldest product, the H9 automatic tree and shrub digger, remains the only such machine in the nation.

Also unique is the 3W6 buggy for spreading or spraying. It has a flotation design specifically for the Northwest’s wet conditions.

Their greenhouses are all steel, pre-drilled and come with an instruction manual for the do-it-yourselfer.

One of GK’s newest products is a deluxe toilet trailer and wash station with a convenient RV dump valve.

“That came about because of COVID,” Lindsay said. “There used to be 20 workers to every wash station and now they’ve gone to 10.”

Kubota will spotlight latest models

Kubota will spotlight latest models

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

The first Kubota tractor introduced in the U.S. in 1969 was an overnight success, filling a product void for a sub-compact tractor.

Today, Kubota offers products in a wide variety of segments with ag equipment representing 65% of sales.

Over the past four decades, Kubota Tractor Co. has continued to expand its product line, and today Kubota is a leading U.S. marketer and distributor of Kubota-engineered and -manufactured machinery and equipment.

“Kubota is one of the few companies left that will design, engineer, manufacture and distribute the product,” said Brad Wilcox, regional sales manager for Oregon and Southwest Washington, representing 21 dealerships.

“With very few exceptions, we do not farm out tractors to be made by somebody else and brand them for us,” Wilcox said. “There are very few companies in this industry that can say that. If something happens down the road, we’re not pointing fingers at somebody else; we are responsible for that product for years to come.”

Their website also offers a “Build My Kubota” feature allowing customers to spec out a Kubota product, get a base price and use the document to seek a quote.

“It is a very handy tool that allows consumers to do some shopping and see some different options and base prices,” Wilcox said.

Since 1982, Kubota has offered a wide range of financing alternatives through Kubota Credit Corporation, enabling Kubota dealers to tailor a variety of finance and lease programs to meet specific customer requirements.

Wilcox believes this year’s Northwest Ag Show virtual format will have pluses and minuses. Kubota is a major sponsor again this year.

The plus: “We can pull in people from a broader geographical area who can ‘attend’ the show from the comfort of their home or office,” he said. “The minus is there will not be an opportunity for attendees to kick the tires, sit in the seat and grow attached to the equipment.”

Their goal is to achieve the show’s objectives, including educating attendees on new farm practices and showing off the latest farm equipment.

“By going virtual we should be able to duplicate that same experience,” Wilcox said. “We will show product demo videos and will be ready to answer questions as they arise.

“I’ve been with the company for about 23 years, and the coworker that will be with me has worked for us for close to 15 years,” Wilcox said. “Between the two of us we can answer quite a few questions and if we can’t, we’ll get back to you.”

A boots-on-the-ground lender with passion for ag

Harvest Capital Company: A boots-on-the-ground lender with passion for ag

By BRENNA WIEGAND
For the Capital Press

Harvest Capital Company of Canby, Ore., founded in 1992, is one of the largest independent commercial agricultural real estate lenders in the region and the Northwest Ag Show’s presenting sponsor.

“We’ve grown from an idealistic desire to serve agriculture and the business of real estate finance in agriculture to almost a billion-dollar player in the Northwest,” founder Brian Field said. “Harvest Capital is a boots-on-the-ground lender. We are intimately and integrally involved with each one of our borrowers through the experience of structuring their operation with long-term financing, from start to finish.

“It’s not just about money to us,” Field said. “It’s an ingredient for the stabilization of balance sheet structure and success for our family farms and ranches scattered throughout the Northwest.

“We want to enhance and add to that picture and we do that through very intense planning involving not only our customer’s agricultural real estate finances, but quite often, their entire structure into the future,” he said.

“We are involved in all aspects of assisting our customers with whatever their needs are, but at the base we are commercial land real estate lenders,” Field said. “That’s the one thing we do, we do it with passion for our producers and our industry and we don’t miss very often.”

One of the top things Field encourages farmers not to do is put all their financial eggs in one basket.

“If you’ve got two farms and they’re 22 miles apart, throwing those farms into the same mortgage is not beneficial to the ownership of the farm,” he said. “Separating them gives farmers leverage on their terms rather than on the dictated terms of their lender.”

Farmers, ranchers and agribusiness people accept special risks and face very specialized challenges, he said.

“In order to meet those challenges, they will need the most advanced credit services and presentation techniques available and we provide the tools, ability and experience today to help them finance tomorrow’s agriculture,” Field said.

An integral part of Harvest Capital’s success is the extensive ag experience of its employees.

“We spend a lot of time and money looking for the leadership background inspired through our high school FFA programs and finely tuned through our ag colleges,” Field said.

Field currently is on FFA’s National Board of Trustees.

“These students are part of the future of American agriculture, something the public should be aware of and be sure to support,” Field said. “Trades are what make this nation tick and agriculture and the FFA are the cream of the crop.”

Representatives of Harvest Capital will be available during the Northwest Ag Show to answer visitors’ questions.