Gerald Unrau Product Manager for Seed Sites and Conveyors, Meridian Manufacturing

Gerald Unrau is Meridian Manufacturing Inc.’s product manager for seed sites and conveyors. His responsibilities include product development and improvements, and supervision of pricing programs and sales staff. Gerald has been with Meridian for 19 years, during which time he has been involved with all aspects of the business—from augers and bins to conveyors, and everything else in between. Gerald’s main focus is to grow his clients’ businesses as well as the seed industry in general.

In the previous columns, I’ve outlined three of the four stages—the conceptualization, design and engineering, and manufacturing phases—to updating or building a new seed site. The final phase includes the delivery, set-up and, most notably, the enjoyment of your site. Your satisfaction with your seed plant is a result of successfully completing the first three stages

Shortcuts taken during these stages will greatly affect whether the finished facility is enjoyable or a regret. Taking shortcuts may make it difficult for producers to do business with you because your ability to provide them with quality product in a timely manner will be affected.

For example, downtime or backlogs due to broken or inefficient equipment, ineffective flow within the seed plant or yard, and cracked or damaged seeds will cost you sales.

The proper planning, design, engineering and manufacturing will allow you to generate high-quality seed while providing an efficient, customer-friendly experience for producers. Flow is critical: customers must be able to move efficiently in and out of the yard and seed must move easily in the plant.

Profitability is also a reflection of the success of the first three stages. Profitability is achieved with throughput volume, operational efficiency and seed storage and handling integrity. If your site is planned and executed correctly, you can maximize the number of customers you put through your facility and your profits will be higher.

If you’re constantly fighting with the system you’ve put in, it’s going to make for very long, frustrating days. However, if you have the right design, the right equipment and the right site—if you make that investment at the start—it’s going to make your business much more profitable. Your investment reflects how you view your business.

In the end, customers want to do business with owners who invest wisely in their seed operations. If you’re able to move producers in and out of your facility in an efficient and timely manner, they can plant more acres in a day, which is better for their farm operations.

Seed is an important input for farmers. They want to know the seed they require is stored, handled and treated in the best manner possible. If you’ve spent the time necessary for working through the first three phases of building a new seed site the fourth stage will seem effortless, and you’ll meet or exceed all of your customers’ expectations.