Maplehurst Farms Inc.
Founded in 1909 by James Carmichael, Maplehurst Farms Inc. is a large grain, fertilizer and trucking company dedicated to merging modern technology and techniques with the old-fashioned values and work ethic that its customers have come to trust over the last 100-plus years.
Maplehurst has been espousing the same principles of honesty, integrity and fairness since Carmichael first started farming 80 acres just north of Rochelle, Illinois. Today Maplehurst has grown into a full-service agribusiness with 11 locations throughout northern Illinois stretching from Cherry Valley to Amboy. The company offers a full slate of agriculture-related services, including grain, seed, agronomy, commodity brokerage services, crop insurance and trucking.
“We offer many value added services for the producer,” says Scott DeVries, general manager at Maplehurst. While DeVries has only served in the general manager role since 2015, he is no stranger to Maplehurst. Growing up in the area, DeVries actually worked at the company after graduating from the University of Illinois in 1989, putting in four years with Maplehurst before moving on to another venture. “I worked in a lot of the divisions and learned the whole process,” he says.
In recent years the independently owned company has expanded into construction and excavation, completing site work and ditch work including ditch cleaning, pond excavating, waterway construction and demolition work. Maplehurst’s excavation division also performs new site prep work, end loader and skid loader work. “It was just a fit with the employees we already had,” says DeVries of the expansion into construction. “It also gives us another opportunity to supply more of our producer’s needs.”
A time-tested team
DeVries credits the company’s success to its emphasis on offering superior service and to the hard working, experienced team of employees who have dedicated their professional lives to the company. Maplehurst boasts a number of long-term employees, including a grain merchandiser who has been with the company for more than 35 years. “We have many employees in the 10- to 20-year range and several that have more than 20 years,” says DeVries.
The experience, flexibility and dedication of Maplehurst’s employees allow the company to quickly respond to market fluctuations by reassigning workers to busier divisions at appropriate times. “We have a very close-knit team that works well together within all of the divisions. That helps a lot when we’re slower in one department, because we can shift people over to other areas” he says.
As the economy continues to bounce back and unemployment figures keep dropping, many in the industry have experienced difficulty attracting qualified employees. While Maplehurst’s dedicated team of long-term employees has kept the company in good position thus far, DeVries says that identifying the next generation of staff is a constant concern. To that end, Maplehurst regularly hires summer interns, often drawn from the families of their producer base, as a means of introducing the company to the next generation.
“Right now we have one summer intern in agronomy and another one in grain. We’ve done that in the past and it’s brought some of the people we currently have into the business,” says DeVries.
Forecasting future trends
As in any agriculture-related business, Maplehurst’s annual performance is inexorably tied to myriad factors and over which the company has no control. While Devries says the company closely tracks its volume and revenue, a rainy or dry season can have an unavoidable effect on the bottom line. “There are a lot of things that can have an influence on revenue,” he says. “When corn comes in dry out of the field, it can have an impact on our total drying revenue.”
While Maplehurst has seen robust revenue from its grain division in recent years, DeVries expects a market correction in the near future. “It’s been really positive on the grain side, but now we may see the markets flatten out a bit. Actually, many areas that producers are looking at may be a little flatter than in years past. Hopefully producers prepared themselves ahead of time when corn was $6 and $7,” he says.
While there are no concrete plans for the immediate future of the company, DeVries says that Maplehurst is continually looking into both facility expansion and the addition of new value-added services for producers. In the last few years the company has added new dump pits, legs and dryers for increased speed and capacity in a bid to keep pace with their customer base. “Their equipment continues to get bigger and more efficient so we need to do the same thing,” he says.
“We’re also trying to add some new marketing programs that we feel will be beneficial to them. Our focus is always to help producers and increase our volumes as far as speed is concerned,” says DeVries.
As a large grain, fertilizer and trucking company dedicated and responsive to the needs of its customers base, Maplehurst Farms Inc. will continue to serve producers throughout Illinois with leading agriculture-related services for harvest after harvest.