By Lee Kilpatrick
Of the Farm, by the Farm, for the Farm
In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln described our country’s mission to preserve a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” In the 150 years that have followed his speech, Americans have taken this mission to heart.
We have our own mission at BBI—to improve the economics of each of our customers. We want their investment in BBI spreaders to make sense, with a quick return that pays them back for years to come. When I think of this mission, I think of it in terms that might make Lincoln proud—that we approach our business “of the farm, by the farm, and for the farm.”
When I came to BBI 10 years ago, I arrived fresh from several years of managing our family farm here in Georgia. I immediately related to this message, and more importantly, this purpose of delivering on a promise with verifiable results as to the improvement of the economics of farming. This mission struck a chord in me, and made me think back to how we made decisions at Kilpatrick Farms.
During my time there, I enjoyed working with my dad on business planning for our operation. We looked for new opportunities to leverage the emerging horse market in the Atlanta area through producing square-bale hay. Dad and I would often sit at his kitchen table, put pen to paper, run the numbers, and figure out the direction we wanted to take, whether the decisions at hand involved pricing, developing new agronomic testing, or investment in new equipment.
I have vivid memories of the time we decided to invest in a spreader. Like many small family farms, we had grown accustomed to dealing with custom applicators for our fertilizer and lime treatments. Custom applicators provide a good service for micro-farms—they supply the costly equipment, while you, the farmer, supply the material.
What Dad and I learned, during that particular kitchen table session, in addition to biscuits being the best meeting room snack, is that there’s a real tipping point for farmers when it comes to paying custom applicators their fees, in addition to picking up the cost of fertilizer and lime. We put the pen to paper and ran the numbers for ourselves—we knew that we could quickly, within just a few growing seasons, recoup the cost of a spreader and end our custom applicator relationship. Instead of having equipment that worked for us, we were ultimately working, in part, to profit the custom applicator’s business.
If you guessed that Dad and I left a couple of unfinished biscuits and ran to our local equipment dealer to buy a spreader, you’d be right.
Fast forward to my time at BBI—we constantly promise to be a leader in the design of durable, sophisticated equipment that lasts season after season, year after year. We define bringing the best to the field as not only in terms of durability and sophistication, but also in terms of staying on top of the latest precision agriculture technology. While we can tip our hats to our competitors on all of these fronts, the real difference, for me, lies in our cost in use.
Our cost-in-use calculators derive from those very kitchen table conversations with my dad. We use cost in use to drive everything we do at BBI, to fulfill that mission in a way that’s “of the farm, by the farm, and for the farm.” We now have a fleet of spreaders for multiple applications that, on average, deliver an incredible return on investment for our farmers—helping them to recoup the cost of a new BBI spreader in less than two growing seasons (about 16 months when our farmers put pen to paper on farms with 1000 or more acres).
BBI spreaders are definitely not “your father’s spreaders.” We make them to be what we call “next generation spreaders.” Two areas where we’ve pioneered in spreader design are in driving interval and flat spread patterns. By cutting a tighter swath, and coupling this with a flat spread pattern, our company helps farmers save big on their material costs. We see competitors routinely quoting swath at the widest place with regard to spread pattern, but at BBI, we don’t cut corners (yes, pun intended).
Now, with ISOBUS-ready technology compatibility standard on BBI spreaders, we can make the consistent case that for many farmers, buying our equipment makes a huge bottom-line difference for them. From the middle of year two on during the life cycle of a BBI spreader, our equipment puts money back in the pockets of the farmers who use them.
The premise is simple—your equipment should work for you, not against you. And for us, it’s not just about getting the job done. It’s doing it well and doing it efficiently, improving the economics of farming one row at a time.
Lee Kilpatrick is Director of Sales and Marketing at BBI Spreaders.