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Agrimarketing : July August 2012
irrigation device. The technology wasn't proven, but Daughtery found it intriguing. "Daugherty purchased the patent for the center pivot and brought it to market in 1954, founding the center pivot industry," says Stolte. "Besides being the first to market with the center pivot, Valley Irrigation also was the first to market with linear machines that travel back and forth across the field in a straight line, and corner arms which irrigate the corners of the field that would otherwise be left un-irrigated." Initial sales, though, were not stellar. Farmers did not see the value at first. And even Daugherty later admitted that the first systems were not reliable. Then, between 1962 and 1965, sales took off. As Daugherty once stated, "It was a matter of product emergence from the developmental state." In June 1976, Scientific American magazine called center pivot irrigation systems "perhaps the most significant mechanical innovation in agriculture since the replacement of draft animals by the tractor." In 1959, Valley Manufacturing started making 6" tubing for their irrigation systems and the oil industry. This was the beginning of the great expansion for Valley. Daugherty's vision for the company was boundless, and he had energy to match. To avoid confusion with the great number of companies named Valley in the U.S., Valley Manufacturing became Valmont Industries, Inc. in 1964. Soon after, the first international sale was made to a dealer in Lyon, France, and the company began fully developing overseas markets in the early 1970s, forming Valmont International. Daugherty passed away in 2010 at the age of 88. "Bob Daugherty was not content with introducing only the center pivot to the market." says Stolte. "He hired bright engineers and worked closely with them to continue enhancing the center pivot, while also developing new products. That spirit of innovation still lives strong today, as we continue to develop products that help the grower become more efficient and profitable." VALMONT INDUSTRIES TODAY The company Daugherty built is on solid ground, well diversified, just as he felt it needed to be. Headquartered in Omaha, Valmont Industries operates from 95 facilities located in seventeen countries around the world, over 8,000 people worldwide. Product offerings include lighting, traffic and utility poles, communications towers, metal coatings, and, of course, irriga- tion systems with Valley Irrigation. Although the company has grown and diversified, Valley Irrigation products remain as the core business and focus. With historical sales of more than 175,000 center pivots and linears, Valmont- built equipment annually irrigates approximately 17 million acres (6.9 million hectares) around the world. According to Michelle Stolte, their success is due to a number of factors. "Our dealer network, for one," she says. "No other manufacturer has a dealer network as large as that of Valley Irrigation's. Our dealers are trained on a continual basis and provide the best sales and service available. They used to sell just center pivots, but with all the options now available, they are selling a new, more profitable and efficient way to farm." "We also are the only manufacturer that makes our own gearboxes especially for center pivot and linear machines. Our competitors import their gearboxes, while we manufacture right here in Nebraska. And we have the longest spans in the industry, allowing growers to irrigate more land while potentially eliminating the cost of one drive unit that would be needed with shorter spans," she adds. Stolte is also quick to mention something she calls, 'The Valmont Way.' "We work very hard both inside the company and with our dealers to eliminate waste, improve processes, and show passion and integrity in everything we do," she says. "This may not initially be evident to our customers, but small changes build upon each other and can eventually make a big difference." Many people, including investors, are seeing the results of The Valmont Way. For the first quarter of this fiscal year, Valmont reported that irrigation sales rose 30% to $196.3 million. According to the company, dry weather in the Midwest has heightened concerns about soil moisture levels. This, along with the drivers of improved productivity and water conservation, led to increased (more on page 45) July/August 2012 Agri Marketing 43 Michelle Stolte, Jake LaRue, and Valley engineers prep for a Circles for Rice field day in Southern Missouri. Circles for Rice is a Valley-supported research effort aimed at conserving water and energy while maximizing productivity.
AgCareers Canada 2012