Pillar Lasers Inc.
Pillar Welding and Machine began operation in 2003, and originally provided welding and custom manufacturing services. Operating out of an acreage shop north of Saskatoon, the company built welding fixtures and manufacturing support items for agricultural and construction equipment businesses, as well as offering repair service to the farming community.
In the spring of 2005, Pillar Lasers Inc. was formed. The company moved into a location in Warman, Sask., and purchased a 4kw laser, and 200 ton CNC brake press. The company used this equipment to broaden its custom parts and manufacturing, and entered into variety of industries such as energy, mining and of course farming, but stayed focused on research and development of its flagship agricultural product — Double Shoot Disc/Hoe Opener. In January 2009, the company purchased land and a building in Warman, and moved the rest of its operations in order to accommodate its production needs.
Today, Pillar Lasers Inc. manufactures specialized agricultural equipment for North American and global markets. The company continues to improve and develop its agricultural product offering, along with custom manufacturing services for various industries across North America. The company has built a solid reputation in Western Canada for quality workmanship and innovative manufacturing solutions.
The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Dick Friesen, President and General Manager of Pillar Lasers Inc. “We have once again reached our capacity, and we were not able to build our products, because they were larger than our current building,” says Friesen. “We have added to our facility again and built a new welding/assembly shop and have moved our production to the new building as of November 2012. We are looking to complete the construction of the new offices in the summer of 2013.”
“Our main product is our Double Shoot Disc/Hoe Opener. We started developing this product about nine years ago. Most seeding products are able to seed at speeds around four to five miles per hour. When using our Double Shoot Disc Opener the farmer is capable of comfortably seeding at speeds around six miles per hour. This is a big bonus for the farmer. Besides this advantage, most of the disc openers out there are single shoot products that are able to put down a single product at one time, and therefore require multiple field passes or another row of openers. We are able to put down the seed and the fertilizer in a single pass using one opener, placing the fertilizer an inch and a half below, and off to one side of the seed. Besides it being done in one pass, the seed/fertilizer placement is far more precise, and the seed/fertilizer relationship is far more consistent, allowing the plant to reach the nutrients and get a jumpstart during the critical first few weeks of growth. The Disc/Hoe opener also creates a soil barrier between the seed and fertilizer to prevent burning of the seed, and eliminates hair-pinning in the seed bed resulting in excellent seed/soil contact for uniform germination,” says Friesen.
Friesen pointed out that all of these advantages of Double Shoot Disc/Hoe Opener come down to the fact that the 40-foot Pillar Disc Drill can seed the same acreage as a 55-foot Hoe Drill in the same amount of time. “Disc openers are always going to be of a higher maintenance than hoe drills, but during our R&D we created solutions that make our opener easy to maintain and adjust, while keeping the movable parts of the opener locked up while they are in use.
“The no-tillage agriculture is becoming more popular; however, this leaves the previous year’s plant residue on the field which can be problematic during seeding time. Our product works excellent in these conditions and because discs will handle the extra residue as well the specially designed seed boot eliminates hair-pinning that is associated with other disc type openers in high residue conditions.”
The company currently markets its products in Western Canada, the United States and overseas, and while Canada and the United States remain Pillar Lasers’ main focus, the company sees a heightened global interest in the product. “We see interest coming in our direction internationally from countries such as France, England, and Australia. Although Canada and the U.S. remain at the centre of our market, we see a global market in our future as well. We have been contacted by farmers across Western Canada and from as far as Texas in the United States. While no-till agriculture is the most developed in Canada and the northern United States, farmers in other areas are starting to look at some of the no-till practices we use over here as well,” says Friesen.
In 2012, Pillar Lasers introduced its Heavy Harrow which had received great reviews from the farms chosen for testing. The Pillar Heavy Harrows have attractive new features, such as positive hitch weight in transport and the ability to increase down pressure from the tractor seat, offered in sizes from 52 to 84 feet wide.
The company also finished developing two new products – 50 and 60 foot toolbars, and the company is ready to roll them out in spring 2013. “We haven’t made any dramatic changes to our seeding tool in several years now, and we continue to keep our designs simple and easy to maintain. The 50 and 60 foot Pillar Disc/Hoe/Drills are heavier than hoe drills in transport but with the rear walking beam and walking axles the weight is distributed evenly on all the carrier wheels, relieving any frame stresses. We have addressed these issues successfully,” says Friesen.
As to the future plans of Pillar Lasers Inc., the company expects the interest and demand for the openers, toolbars and heavy harrows to increase. Pillar Lasers’ research and development team continues to move forward, embracing the challenge of introducing new solutions to the modern farmer. Pillar Lasers Inc. plans to stay in its current new building until the demands of its products and services move the company into a larger production plant once again.
We look forward to building quality equipment for your farming needs, and we will continue to serve our custom laser cutting and manufacturing customers as we grow. A big “Thank You!” to all our customers — you are the reason we are here!
Pillar Lasers Inc. — “We strive to serve you better!”