Concentrating on the sprayer business, Hagie Manufacturing has blazed trails in application
Located in Clarion, Iowa, Hagie Manufacturing Company is well-known for its long-legged sprayers, the tallest with 8.5' of clearance. But it was a detasselling machine that drew the Hagie family into the manufacturing business.
In the early 1940s, Ray Hagie was running Hagie Hybrids, a seed corn company. To make the process of detasselling corn more manageable, he made a self-propelled platform for his workers to stand on. That machine evolved into a mechanical detasseller.
"With the strong corn breeding business, we went from selling no detassellers to hundreds," says John Hagie, Ray’s son and chairman of the board. "From there, our customers started asking for a spraying machine to apply 2,4-D and DDT. We can say we manufactured the first commercially built high-clearance sprayer."
That sprayer was a three-wheeled machine built in 1947.
As the seed industry consolidated, the Hagie family sold its seed corn business to focus on machinery. Today, the company’s facilities, which include 210,000 sq. ft. for engineering and product support and 175,000 sq. ft. for manufacturing, span 25 acres on two adjacent campuses. The original facility was built in 1955.
"We know how to build sprayers," John says. "Over the years, we’ve tried a lot of different things: a miniature garbage truck, a feed mixer body, snowplow equip- ment and gas leak detection equipment. But we can only be successful at what we’re passionate about, and that’s crop production," he adds.
John took over as chairman at the end of 2010 and his son, Alan, became president. Alan also runs the family’s 1,600-acre corn and soybean farm, and John oversees Cyclone Trace Cattle Company, a registered Shorthorn herd.
"We understand our customers’ expectations because we are in the same business," Alan says. "These machines have to run when they’re expected to work. Today, all of our machines are still tested on our farm first before an extensive testing program across our market."
Sales network. Hagie Manufacturing focuses on direct sales. The company has field offices in Shelbyville, Ind.; Roanoke, Ill.; and Cairo, Neb. Each facility stocks parts and has the ability to refurbish used machines.
"We have maintained the direct sales model because we don’t want to be removed from the customer’s experience," Alan says. "We do have dealers in areas that we feel the company couldn’t serve in any other way."
The company has a field sales staff of 25 and 29 service technicians. "The service staff purposefully outnumbers the sales team. The goal is for a machine to never have to leave a farm for service," Alan says.
The company manages all of its own used inventory. On the production end, every machine is built to order, which means each machine has a name associated with it as it goes down the line.
"The trend of farmer-owned self-propelled sprayers has increased every year with on-farm net income, and today that segment makes up half of our business," John says.
Company compass. As Alan walks in his customers’ shoes, he also leads the company’s employees to embrace the nine Hagie family values.
"The values were written by nine high-performing employees, and each week at our factory start-up meeting we highlight a value," Alan says. "It’s one thing for our company to have those written on paper and posted throughout the facility, but it’s another for every employee to take charge of following through on that mission."
When he became president of the company, Alan had his prior office renovated into an "Innovations Lounge." The space now has couches, a TV and the equipment needed for weekly product innovation meetings. Alan’s current office is located directly off the factory floor.
Hagie Manufacturing’s 317 employees commute from within a 40-mile radius of headquarters. In the first half of 2012, the company will have 50 new employees in customer support, engineering and manufacturing.
"Our employees are our best asset," Alan says. "Every candidate has four interviews and meets with at least 10 people. We have a three-day orientation for new employees, during which they see all parts of our company."
The company’s investment in its people continues every morning with a 10-minute stretching program and free coffee, soda and popcorn during the day. The company uses 50 lb. of popcorn in a week.
The free popcorn was a result of an ongoing employee feedback program. All 27 managers routinely meet with randomly selected employees in divisions they don’t manage. Another
result of the program was the introduction of vending machines for consumables used in manufacturing.
"As we’ve grown, we’ve had to stay on top of processes and best practices," Alan says. "We want a strong safety record because we care about people. When we meet safety goals, we serve a hot breakfast or lunch to everyone."
Production snapshot. Hagie Manufacturing runs two shifts year-round. The production line breaks when it shifts from sprayers to detassellers. When sprayers are on the line, a variety of models are manufactured. Currently, the company has a four-month lead time for a machine.
"Everything past fabrication is one-piece flow," Alan says. "This helps us get away from batch builds and increases our efficiency."
To meet quality standards and improve the availability of materials, the company recently invested in a steel tube bending machine and started crimping hydraulic hoses in-house.
"We keep little steel supply on-site," Alan says. "We receive one or two truckloads of steel a day."
Two laser cutters run 24 hours a day, and every piece of equipment in the fabrication department is computer controlled. Hagie Manufacturing has two paint lines—one semi-automated for larger parts and one completely automated for small parts.
On the assembly line, there are five stations with four to five employees at each. The subassembly workstations laterally feed the final assembly line.
"We build and assemble our own cabs," Alan says. "We have designed a cab dedicated to being suitable as a sprayer cab."
At the end of assembly, a pre-delivery area tests and inspects every machine. From there, the machines are taken to a nearby building until a truck is ready to deliver them.
"We run our own delivery trucks with the goal of delivering every one of our machines to the end user," Alan says.
The company has used Cummins engines on 100% of its equipment since 1992. Employees are trained on Raven and Ag Leader Technology precision ag equipment for customer support.
Exports are 25% of the company’s business. Most machines are sent to Eastern Europe and South America.
In 2012, Hagie Manufacturing will reconfigure its layout to better incorporate its second campus, primarily used for machinery staging now. As a result of the feedback program, a fitness center will be built as well.
Hagie Manufacturing is one of the largest employers in Wright County, Iowa, something the family is proud of.
"Providing employment in our community is doing our part in supporting rural America," Alan says.
Every two years, the company hosts Hagie Family Appreciation Days, an open house with a meal and live band. Another way the company works to improve the community is giving each employee two days off from work each year to dedicate to charitable efforts.
At Hagie Manufacturing, the company has made strides in application by following its passion for agriculture and rural America.