Jason Kaeb Director of Business Development, KSi

A Kansas State University graduate, Jason Kaeb earned a degree in management information systems and operations management. After graduation, he worked for Sprint Nextel before joining KSi, a family-owned startup that has seen double-digit growth in the production and service of bulk seed handling and treatment equipment and automation systems. Kaeb has served in various positions including operations, automation/controls, service and sales. Today, as director of business development, he leverages his broad understanding of the seed handling and treatment industry to provide solutions to end customers, and maintains relationships with some of the largest and most influential companies in the seed industry.

As a manufacturing company, partnerships are vital to our success and sustainability as a company. As with many other businesses, our network of relationships that must be maintained and fostered is extensive. Some of these include suppliers, accounts, end customers, internal, distributors, financial and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).

If one of these relationships becomes strained, it has the potential to impact the whole production process. Of special importance to us is OEMs. We are set up as an OEM for many of our providers, as we integrate their equipment and devices into our solutions that we provide for the industry. On the other hand, we work with a number of equipment manufacturers that incorporate our equipment into their product offerings to enhance their solutions in the marketplace.

In fostering these relationships, it’s about understanding what our core competencies are and creating a synergy that allows us to develop a solution that neither one of us could do, or would want to do, on our own. It’s important for us as a business to recognize that we are a small fish in a very large lake with many great agricultural manufacturers. As such, it’s imperative that we understand our strengths and focus on those, rather than try to move into an area outside of our strengths.

We don’t need to be designing and engineering motors, load cells and other hardware — that’s not our area of expertise. Now if someone needs a conveyor or bulk handling automation solution, then we’re the go-to source.

In many cases, we are able to expand our business and product footprint through establishing OEM relationships, where our equipment is used as part of another manufacturer’s equipment. For example, the KSi cleated-belt conveyor, when mounted to different models of planters, air carts and seed tenders, adds value to our partners’ products.

By partnering with other OEMs, you must be receptive to feedback and open to listening to different perspectives. As a business owner, it’s easy to be inward looking, and it takes intentional effort to be outward looking.

We are proud to be an OEM for John Deere, CNH and others, but these relationships don’t just help our bottom line, they help us to be a better business and, in turn, create better products. As a small company, these partnerships have helped us grow when it comes to documentation, product quality and service … and that’s good for everyone, both internally and externally.

Remember: Know your strengths and work to develop partnerships with others for a better end product.