R & S Grain Systems

Grain handling and storage equipment for Midwest farmers
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Drew Taylor

Based in Dexter, Minnesota, R & S Grain Systems has been building grain handling and storage equipment for farmers and commercial elevators throughout the Midwest for 43 years. The family-owned company was established by husband-and-wife team Raymond and Sharon Dietrich in 1972.

At first, it was just Raymond and Sharon on the small family farm, but R & S Grain began to add staff and take on more projects as the years progressed, offering area farmers the necessary tools for grain production. As a farmer, Raymond had an understanding of what kind of equipment it takes to run a successful operation.

“My parents started R & S Grain in 1972,” says Wayne Dietrich, vice president of R & S Grain. “My father started in the industry as a salesman for another dealer. When he started R & S Grain the company sold and erected grain bins, but needed something to keep busy through the winter so we started making necessary parts for building bins, preparing for busy season.”

Growing vertically

Over time, this grew into more manufacturing and as bins grew taller and larger, R & S Grain started manufacturing grain legs. “The company started out purchasing legs but we were dissatisfied with the timeframe and how long it took to get the legs to erect in a timely fashion,” says Dietrich. “R & S Grain started manufacturing its own legs, catwalks and more grain handling equipment in order to diversify and keep our help busy year-round.”

R & S Grain steadily branched into commercial elevators throughout Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota. Today, the company has a team of 22 employees, running two divisions; R & S Grain, dedicated to manufacturing its signature D-Line grain handling and support equipment and R & S Installation, established in 2012 and now running installation crews to erect the equipment R & S Grain builds.

Custom fabrication

In addition to installing and repairing grain equipment, R & S Grain has a fully functional fabrication shop with state-of-the-art machines manufacturing legs, drags, catwalks, towers, grain cleaners, k-valves, three-way valves, clam gates, cushion boxes, rack and pinion gates, square to rounds, round to rounds and more.

The company is also utilizes AutoCAD drafting software. “We can draw anything you need to your specification and then manufacture it,” says Dietrich. “We can really customize. If you order a leg from us and all of a sudden you need it 10 feet taller, we can handle it and have it completed in a few weeks. With other outlets, if you need a different length or component you’re going to wait four to six weeks.”

“We also have a large inventory of belts, pulleys, bearings, motors, gear drives and Rhino Hyde products,” adds Dietrich. This broad range of in-house products allows R & S Grain to support a range of customers, from large-scale commercial elevators to cooperatives or an individual farmer.

Backed by service

Dietrich says R & S Grain sticks to a relatively small regional area, about a five- or six-hour radius of Dexter because the company not only manufactures new equipment, but also stands by to repair and service existing components. “We have a network of vendors that buy and sell our D-Line Equipment and do the same type of millwright work we do further outside of Dexter, but for the most part we support customers within this home area,” notes Dietrich.

This allows R & S Grain to service existing equipment, providing a level of attention and care larger dealers simply can’t touch. “Most of our business is manufacturing and installing new product going to elevators, but we also service everything we do and I think that’s a niche that sets us apart,” says Dietrich. “You won’t find that with bigger outfits out there. When they sell equipment, they don’t necessarily follow up with the service and the customer is left on their own.”

Family first

Despite further vertical integration and expansion over the years, R & S Grain has kept the size and scope of its operation fairly small and grounded in family ownership. “I grew up in the business and now as our main salesman, I focus on bidding jobs and overseeing installations,” details Dietrich. “My sister, Carmen Howe is also involved. She does the bookkeeping and money side of the business along with our mother Sharon. Her daughter, Courtney Howe also works in the office.”

Jon Dietrich, Raymond’s brother, serves as shop foreman and Bart Howe, Carmen’s brother-in-law, is the main draftsman and shop manager. Wayne’s son-in-law, Alex Nelson, also works at R & S Grain as an installer on one of the company’s installation crews. Together, with the rest of the employees at the R & S Grain Systems family, the company continues to support farmers, cooperatives and elevators with trusted equipment, custom fabrication, sales and service.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
4-B Components