Elmer’s Manufacturing Ltd.
Based in Altona, Man., Elmer’s Manufacturing Ltd. designs, develops and manufactures specialized agricultural equipment. Nestled in the heart of the Red River Valley, the company started as a small farm equipment manufacturer in 1978, and has grown its manufacturing from row crop cultivators to an extensive and diversified lineup of agricultural equipment lines for farming operations of all sizes, providing the farming community with products such as header and swather transports, high capacity grain carts, revolutionary Super 7 Harrow and the newest edition the Transfer Tracks System.
The Canadian Business Journal sat down with Eric Braun, Director of Sales and Marketing at Elmer’s Manufacturing, and discussed the company beginnings, the upside of Elmer’s Manufacturing Ltd.’s products for the farming community and the vision for the future.
“Just like any good agricultural equipment company, our company was started by a farmer, Elmer Freisen. He started building equipment that suited his needs – I believe he needed a cultivator that would be heavy enough. The community liked the product and other farmers asked him to build the product for them.
This started Elmer’s, farming by day and manufacturing by night.”
This attitude of hard work and a can-do work ethic represents the definition of Elmer’s Manufacturing to this day, defining Elmer’s products by unprecedented quality, workmanship, and service. Product design, fabrication and assembly are all done in the company’s Altona facility by the company staff of 35, working to meet the high standards, and assuring that all equipment is tested to meet the high demands and expectations of the farming business. The company creates the most reliable agricultural equipment on the market due to its love of agriculture and passion for creating reliable and solid products that will serve the farmer well.
Today, Elmer’s Manufacturing builds a whole gamut of agricultural products, offering farmers Header Transports, Swather Transports, but with the main focus on its newest innovative products, Haul Master grain carts, Transfer Track System, and revolutionary Super 7 Harrow.
“About four years ago we entered into new product market segments, offering farming businesses our Haul Master grain carts. We offer large-size, 1,600 bushel and 2,000 bushel grain carts with installed tracked undercarriage. This is the biggest track undercarriage currently available on the market, but we also offer smaller track systems. The Transfer Tracks is a separate product, because of its usage versatility. Sold with the Haul Master up to 1,150 bushel in size or separately, we designed and developed these transfer tracks so they can be moved over from a grain cart, and used for moving anything else on the farm such as seeding tools, liquid caddies, and so on,” says Braun.
The company’s Supper 7 Harrow is also a strong competitor on the market, with extra and easy adjustments that result in high versatility, and ease of maintenance and durability. “This is no ordinary harrow. It’s a seven bar mid harrow. We call it a ‘hybrid’. When farmers switch from heavy harrows to mid harrows, the mid harrows normally have only five rows, and therefore won’t cover enough ground and won’t do enough work. Our Super 7 Harrow boasts 7 rows of half-inch by 22-inch tines. That’s 40 per cent more harrow tines than our competitors. Another unique part of this product is the fact that the harrow has three levels of adjustability, so we are getting an extremely good field finish,” says Braun.
While facing and working with the elements of nature day after day, just like any industry, agriculture continues its push towards larger efficiency and productivity. This is why, according to Braun, the general push in the agriculture industry is that the farms are growing bigger and bigger, using larger and larger equipment. That is one of the reasons why Elmer’s focused on creating and introducing its large grain cart to the market, as the clients continue to switch from the smaller, 650 to 800 bushel grain carts to larger carts such as those offered by Elmer’s Manufacturing. “This is a young and healthy market but it has been a great market for us, and overall agriculture is a great market to be in today,” says Braun.
The company continues to focus its marketing efforts on Western Canada, and while the company shipped several pieces of equipment across the border, the main international market for Elmer’s Manufacturing is in Australia, and the company is also marketing to other countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. To the question as to how agricultural professionals in these countries hear about Canadian agricultural equipment, Braun said, “It’s all about networking, about picking up the phone, talking to the right people, and getting the name out there. Getting one deal done in countries like Russia takes a lot of groundwork, research and communication. Dealing with these markets is very personal, and takes a lot of discussion, hammering out the product differences and benefits.”
In regards to financing, Braun also noted the importance of the company’s cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s export credit agency.
“This relationship has allowed us to get into new markets and expand our current North American presence,” says Braun.
According to Braun, when dealing with these markets, it all comes down to price, and this drift towards value is starting to transpire in all other agricultural markets, international and domestic. The secret lies in making clients understand the numbers behind their investment, showing them what the potential savings are when using Elmer’s products.
While the founder and President Elmer Freisen continues his life as a successful Manitoba farmer and playing a key role in Elmer’s Manufacturing, Elmer’s son Mike Friesen has recently stepped in as the Executive-Vice President. Elmer’s Manufacturing continues to expand its facilities and equipment capabilities to maintain the company’s objective — designing and producing equipment that meets the needs of today’s high-tech farmer, and designing user friendly, low maintenance, durable and versatile machinery, all in the name of love for farming and manufacturing farm equipment.