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Bestway Inc.: Innovative Marketing Solutions for a Changing Agricultural Market
In 1995 Rick and Debbie Heiniger of RHS Sales in Hiawatha, Kan., purchased the Bestway Sprayer Company from Ritchie Industries in Iowa. The purchase was a good fit for RHS Sales, as the company was already involved in agricultural sprayer manufacturing and buying Bestway gave the Heinigers a well-established brand and product line. Today Rick and Debbie Heiniger still own Bestway Inc. (Bestway), which is managed by Pat Meenen, president, and Dave Benson, director of sales and marketing.
Managing, Innovating and Diversifying Builds a Stronger Company
Bestway continues to lead the pull-type agricultural sprayer product segment with the Field Pro IV model sprayer, built in the Bestway plant located in Hiawatha. Pull-type sprayers, once the industry vogue, are now seeing a declining market due to increased sales of the high-end self-propelled sprayers built by major line manufacturers like John Deere and Case-IH. “Our strategy is to gain market share in a declining market,” states Meenen. “By increasing our market share we have been able to continue to build a consistent number of sprayers each year, keeping our plant load level and allowing us good income to expand into new product markets at the same time.
“As we saw the industry numbers trending down for the pull-type sprayer market segment in 2008, a think-tank meeting with Rick Heiniger, Dave Benson and myself resulted in an innovative idea for a variable ride spray boom suspension on the Field PRO IV Bestway Sprayer which no other manufacturer could compete with,” continues Meenen.
“The idea proved sound, was developed, tested and had patents applied for, and the system was put into production on our 2009 model sprayers,” adds Benson. This innovation, called V-Ride, was highly promoted and resulted in increased product sales and market share for Bestway. Ultimately, U. S. Patent number 7,878,422 B2 was awarded on Feb. 1, 2011, for the V-Ride system.
With a declining total market on the core sprayer line, diversification was needed to provide Bestway with additional product sales opportunities and to take full advantage of the companies experienced workforce and plant capacities. “We decided to research out ‘niche’ products that would enable Bestway to go forward with little to no competition in the chosen product segment,” notes Benson.
“Our goal was to develop niche products and markets, but to stay within the agricultural equipment industry, which is where our management, as well as our field sales staff expertise lies,” explains Meenen. The product development project resulted in two new products and a new brand for Bestway.
Bestway zeroed in on a niche market that affects almost everyone in production agriculture today: the transportation of large farm equipment. The first product under the new brand name “Retriever” was the Self Loading Trailer introduced in 2010. “We branded the Retriever product separate from the Bestway sprayer products, as the main goal of the Retriever brand was direct sales of the product to farm equipment dealers for their own internal use,” says Benson. A second Retriever product, the Transport Hitch, was introduced at a major industry trade show in fall 2011.
“The new Retriever-brand products now make up approximately 25 percent of our total revenue,” explains Meenen.
Future Growth for Bestway Inc.
Bestway’s next product development project is taking the company right back to its roots in the application of crop care chemicals and fertilizers. Liquid fertilizer application products are a growing agricultural equipment market and Bestway enters the market in 2013 with the new 1000 Series three-point mounted liquid fertilizer applicator.
“Fertilization of crops for maximum yield potential is becoming even more precise with the technology we have today,” notes Meenen. “Bestway will leverage our experience in building advanced liquid systems on sprayers to provide growers with a highly precise liquid fertilizer applicator product.”
The new applicators will be sold through existing and newly signed Bestway farm equipment dealers, strengthening the Bestway brand. “I’d like to see us grow 30 to 40 percent over the next few years,” states Meenen.
Bestway Inc. is staying competitive and pushing for sustainable growth, establishing and strengthening partnerships to assure satisfaction for its long-term customers.