Hagie Manufacturing: ‘Here to stay’

Klemme: John Deere venture still positive for all involved

-Photo by Kriss Nelson Kent Klemme, president of Hagie Manufacturing, poses beside a sprayer in Hagie’s manufacturing plant in Clarion.

CLARION — When a small-town business has a change in ownership, it’s natural for the community to be concerned. Such as when the new joint venture between Hagie Manufacturing, from Clarion, and John Deere was announced last year.

Kent Klemme, president of Hagie Manufacturing, wants to reassure the community and Hagie customers that it is here to stay.

“The Hagie brand remains, color will remain, manufacturing and Hagie will remain in Clarion,” said Klemme. “We will continue to develop new Hagie products here and are now selling them through John Deere dealers.”

On March 29, 2016, the joint venture between Hagie Manufacturing and John Deere began.

Klemme said the first major changes included converting Hagie Manufacturing products into the John Deere channel.

-Photo by Kriss Nelson Kevin Marshall, product line manager with Hagie Manufacturing, poses beside a sprayer in Hagie’s manufacturing plant in Clarion.

“That was a big transition,” he said.

The venture is one that isn’t so obvious to many on the outside, as production remains the same. However, Klemme said it did affect direct sales and service personnel at Hagie and, fortunately, most of them were transferred to John Deere dealerships.

On June 1, 2016, Klemme said John Deere dealers could begin ordering Hagie products and, at that time, began bringing Hagie parts and products to thier locations.

A major task to this joint venture, Klemme said, has been transferring the service and product support over to John Deere.

“We wanted to continue to service our current customers and maintain high quality of service,” he said. “And we still have a talented service and technician group and they will continue to take care of our customers.”

-Photo by Kriss Nelson Hagie STS16 self-propelled sprayer is now equipped with a John Deere motor and is the largest applicator in Hagie’s STS product portfolio.

John Deere dealers, he said, officially started their avenue for service on Nov. 1, 2016.

Tyler Nielsen, with sales for KC Nielsen, which include six John Deere locatons, said they have been excited for the joint venture with Hagie.

“We are excited to sell and service Hagie’s unique product,” Nielsen said. “This venture is good for agriculture and good for our customers.

“We have a strong customer base and Hagie is a great, local manufacturing company. It’s a great opportunity for our business to be able to sell and support these sprayers.”

Nielsen said their locations are ready to help Hagie customers with service and have been through training. However working on Hagie equipment isn’t necessarily entirely new to them.

-Photo by Kriss Nelson Luke Kerns, with John Deere, poses beside a sprayer in Hagie’s manufacturing plant in Clarion.

“Our technicians have worked on Hagie brand sprayers in the past,” he said. “They are catching on quick with multiple training events.

“We are currently getting ready for spring.”

Luke Kerns, territory sales manager for John Deere, said expanding product offerings from John Deere is a huge benefit.

“We are excited to have a new offering in our portfolio at John Deere. It will help us to grow and it’s a better opportunity to serve our customers’ needs.

“We are a one-stop shop for all application sales and support.”

-Photo by Kriss Nelson Kent Klemme, president of Hagie Manufacturing, poses beside a sprayer in Hagie’s manufacturing plant in Clarion.

Previously, Hagie Manufacturing had six technicians to service the entire customer base for the company.

“Now we have 12 just within our company, not to mention all of the other John Deere dealers throughout United States and Canada,” said Nielsen.

And “that’s a massive upgrade of available service,” said Kevin Marshall, product line manager for Hagie.

To help service its large customer base at dealerships, Nielsen said the company increased its sprayer sales staff from one to four people — three being Hagie salesmen to KC Nielsen.

Klemme said the joint venture helps complete a John Deere sprayer line with Hagie Manufacturing’s products that feature unique late-season capability for applications in corn.

-Submitted photo This is a line-up of Hagie self-propelled sprayers displayed on a John Deere dealership’s lot.

“John Deere is in the sprayer business, but not for the late season applications in corn, which Hagie specifically is geared toward,” said Klemme.

Nielsen said they are excited to be able to add the option of split applications of nitrogen and other late-season applications to their product line.

“And we are seeing a trend continue to grow for later season applications,” said Kerns.

It was that reason that Klemme said John Deere approached Hagie Manufacturing about the joint venture and that is how it all started. With the joint venture, Alan Hagie owns a part of the company and John Deere is also a part owner of Hagie Manufacturing.

“You couldn’t find a better fit for the two companies,” said Klemme. “Hagie has so many benefits, but missing the large John Deere channel and this allows for Hagie to grow and reach more customers with their product and better service.”

With the larger channel to sell Hagie products, Klemme said they are already preparing for the need for increased production.

“We are preparing for future growth within Hagie in Clarion with capital investments and more jobs,” said Klemme.

Especially once the ag economy turns around.

“We have a challenging ag economy today and we are preparing for when it turns around,” he said. “With a wide dealer base, we will see high production rates.”

Klemme said the company has plans to increase manufacturing capabilities to meet potential future demand and planning how to invest in anticipated updates, plus working with suppliers to prepare them for future capacity needs.

For the first year of the joint venture, despite the down ag economy, Klemme said they have stayed on schedule for complete production.

“It has been quite successful,” he said.

Klemme said integrating Hagie products and John Deere products has begun.

Hagie Manufacturing’s STS16, the company’s largest full-season applicator, is now available with a John Deere engine and also within the Intelligent Solutions Group. This includes displays, guidance and controls previously available through John Deere, but now fits with Hagie, allowing for ease of use within the John Deere customer base.

Marshall said the product line teams from both John Deere and Hagie Manufacturing have worked diligently together. Putting a joint venture together is not taken lightly and involves strategic, careful planning.

“These are the first two areas of integration and we will continue to see technology integrated onto Hagie products from John Deere as the industry demands,” said Klemme.

For 2017, Klemme said the company is looking at selling and servicing Hagie products throughout the United States and Canada.

In 2018, they hope to start the engagement of John Deere dealers for exports of Hagie products internationally.

“Anywhere there is corn, we will be exporting Hagie products,” said Klemme.

Kerns said he believes the joint venture has been well-received.

“The venture has been exciting. It’s been almost a year and the initial reaction with our dealers has been positive,” said Kerns. “Our customers are excited about better service and parts availability.”

In 2017, Hagie Manufacturing will celebrate its 70th anniversary. The company employs 268 full-time employees in addition to seasonal part-time help at its Clarion location.