Precision Structures Inc.

A leading agricultural contractor based in Wellman, Iowa
Written by: 
Jeanee Dudley
Produced by: 
Ian Nichols

Since 1983, Precision Structures Inc. (PSI) has been providing clients throughout the Midwest with high-quality, efficient and safe agricultural construction services. The business is based in Wellman, Iowa, and employs approximately 60 people. PSI began primarily building swine confinement facilities, which continue to serve as the company’s bread and butter. Over the years, the team has also built other livestock facilities, commercial structures and residential buildings.

“We are rooted in agricultural construction,” says Chris Harmsen, president and owner of PSI and an agricultural engineer. “Swine facilities still make up around 90 percent of our work. We design, sell and supervise the construction of these projects out of our home facilities and work with subcontractors in various areas. We have our own infrastructure that oversees them, allowing us to serve clients in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.”

Practice makes perfect

Each year, PSI constructs around 100 structures — mostly swine facilities. “Part of the uniqueness of doing these types of facilities is repetitiveness,” says Harmsen. “This allows our people to become very efficient and capable at them. We have a refined process in place.”

Late winter of each year, Harmsen and his team analyze how much work it looks like they will have for the coming construction season and break it down over the length of the construction season — allowing the business to plot out the season week by week.

“This year we needed to build 2.5 buildings each week,” he elaborates. “For example one of our recent projects, which is about the average for us, was 71 feet by 285 feet with an eight-foot concrete manure pit below it. We go about making sure we have enough contractors so that each trade is knocking out 2.5 of these each week, whether it be pouring the concrete, doing the carpentry or our crew installing the equipment. Everyone has to keep the pace to accomplish what we need by the end of the season.”

PSI has the process down to a science. While Harmsen notes that the repetitive nature of the business helps to simplify projects, they all come with challenges. “Accomplishing everything on schedule can be challenging especially when the weather and site conditions give hurdles,” he explains. “But we hold highly the idea that we need to do what we say we are going to and that includes completion dates on buildings. Otherwise our customers will not be able to confidently rely on us, hence the idea that we want to evermore professionally service our evermore professional customer.”

Growing based on reputation

A majority of PSI’s work year after year is repeat business and a significant amount comes via referral as well. “Around 75 percent is repeat from a family-farm standpoint,” says Harmsen. “We try to develop the other side by getting to know new integrators, new people in the industry and new territories where we can. We have to compete hard to get into new territories and we only expand where we can service our customers efficiently. If we can’t offer someone the same quality and service as we do customers in our existing territory, it isn’t worth it to us to grow in that area.”

For now, Harmsen and his colleagues are consciously building market share within existing territory and strategically targeting new areas on the frontier. While farm structure construction — particularly swine facilities — continue to be the predominant service, PSI has recently acquired Keith’s Parts and Service, a company that specializes in grain storage, handling and drying systems. “We wanted to be able to better professionally support customers on the grain side and the people and equipment at Keith’s are helping us do that,” Harmsen adds.

With more than 30 years of experience in the agricultural construction market, PSI has the reputation and longevity to ensure it can continue to serve its customers into the future. While the business has been around for a while, the average age at PSI is 36. “It is very common for new vendors to meet with us and comment about the capable, energetic group,” Harmsen explains. “We face plenty of challenges with all of the variables inherent to the industry, but the team’s camaraderie pulls them together when the going gets tough and often attracts new talent interested in joining the group.”

With both the economy and the agricultural sector gaining steam, PSI will be there to catch new business as farms expand and clients seek to diversify their operations. Harmsen and his colleagues share dedication to quality, efficiency and moving agriculture forward — factors that make the business a qualified and reliable partner for new and existing customers.

Precision Structures Inc. is a leader in its market and will continue to stand apart from competitors with hard work and integrity.

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