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Listening is what they do best

By Staff | Oct 13, 2013

B ENJI VANDE GRIEND, left, Demco’s agri-products sales manager, and Ken Streff, vice president of sales and marketing, confer on details of one of the company’s field sprayers. The company will observe its 50th anniversary in November.

BOYDEN – According to Ken Streff, of Demco, the people and customers of Boyden are have made his firm the company it is.

Demco is a manufacturer of fertilizer application and grain handling equipment.

“Without the community support,” said Streff, vice president of sales and marketing, “the employee commitment to producing quality products and the producers buying these products, we’d have no business. All three factors stand way out in our success.”

Demco, which was recognized on Sept. 26 as a recipient of the Renew Rural Iowa award, by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, will observe its 50th anniversary in November.

Started by the late Robert Dethmers, Demco’s current management team includes his son-in-law, Jim Koerselman, chief executive officer, with Dethmers’ grandsons, Bob Koerselman and Kevin Ten Haken.

Streff said Demco is in a global market and cites Dethmers’ determination to help his customers do their work better and more efficiently.

Demco’s first products, Streff said, were a starter system for an Allis Chalmers tractor and a liquid fertilizer system for corn planters.

“Listening as he always did to customers,” Streff said, he developed the products customers were asking for.

While Demco continues to develop new products for ag enterprises, Streff said, its market has diversified, made possible its 300 employees.

“Many folks in this area know us as an agriculture-based company and agriculture remains very important to us,” Streff said. “Our diversification has been very healthy – for instance, meeting the needs of the (recreational vehicle) industry in the early 1980s, when the agricultural market was very distressed and under a lot of pressure.”

Demco designed tow dollies for the RV industry and has become a major supplier of towing equipment to national chains, Streff said.

Another diversification is trailer components for cargo-type truck trailers.

Both markets, he said, are seen as having additional opportunities for the company in 2014.

Streff and Benji Vande Griend, Demco’s agri-product sales manager, walked outside to look over large, company-made hydraulic field sprayer.

“Today’s agricultural customers are focused on production,” Streff said. “The equipment they want has to be of the latest technology, for instance, sprayer equipment to match the configuration of their fields. They also want variable global positioning system capability in this equipment.”

He said Demco clients will orient their grain handling equipment to the size of their operations, combines and trucks.

“These are key things in their decision-making process,” Streff said. “So, too, is rhe effect of grain carts and large tires to minimize soil compaction.”

Ag customers are also orienting field-scale systems to their yields,” Streff said, “to avoid over-loading grain trucks which might be in violation of road restrictions.”

A number of customers, Streff said, are going with roll-type cover systems for their grain-handling carts to protect harvested grain in fields from rain or snow damage.

“It never ceases to amaze me,” Streff said, “that while younger farmers are often more savvy in technology, there are (farmers) in their 50s, 60s, sometime 70s, who are amazing in their efforts to understand and use today’s technology.

“In fact it can at times be a little intimidating to me how the senior generation is using this technology as well.”

Despite using robotic welding and laser plasma cutters in its manufacturing, Demco’s approach to customers is still old-fashioned – they listen, Streff said.

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