Barron & Brothers International: Innovation at Its Finest

BBI (Barron & Brothers International) is a design, manufacturing and sales company working to raise the technological bar in the spreader industry. Richard Hagler is the president and CEO of the relatively young Cornelia, Ga.-based company, which was founded 20 years ago. Hager brought a lot of enthusiasm and drive to BBI since he took it over 12 years ago in 2000.

Like most effective – and successful – leaders, he fully understands that every product in every market has a cyclical value and, as such, he has expanded the company’s product offerings to cover markets that traditional agriculture (ag) manufacturers have ignored.

“When I took over the company our product offerings were limited and we didn’t really differentiate amongst the different products,” relates Hagler. “When crop prices are high and farmers are making money, they can invest in new equipment, but there was a period not so long ago when American farmers faced enormous challenges because of a prolonged period of low crop prices.”

Diversity Leads to Success

Under Hagler’s leadership BBI has modified its traditional ag technology to increase its appeal to any company or industry that requires a granular spreader, thus ensuring that when prices and services drop in one industry company profits can be maintained with a renewed focus in an industry sector that is doing well and requires a granular material applicator. BBI currently designs and manufactures fertilizer and lime spreaders, litter spreaders, compost spreaders, rock/sand/salt spreaders, aggregate spreaders, shavings spreaders, orchard and vineyard spreaders, as well as spreaders appropriate for golf and turf fields.

“I believe that just because an economy is not doing well it should have no bearing on your own success,” Hagler firmly states. “Our success is determined by how creative and assertive that we are.”

The BBI lines of spreaders and peripheral equipment are sold through a network of dealers to the agriculture, poultry and construction industries, and have gained a reputation for being efficient, well-designed equipment that is easy to use and profitable to own.

Hagler maintains a research and development department at BBI that is always researching new ways to increase durability and efficiency, reducing labor, fuel and maintenance costs. Additionally, this group tracks trends for ways that the company could capture new markets through its range of truck-mounted, pull-type, hydraulic, mechanical and side-discharge spreaders. The research and development department stays current on technological advances that can be applied to spreaders, focusing on spread pattern advancement to deliver optimum field application results. Using those methods, BBI launched a revolutionary spreader under the Triad brand five years ago, and this product is now getting the attention that it deserves.

A version of the company’s Triad Pull Type modified in 2011 essentially combines three independent hoppers to apply three different materials at independently varying rates, ideal for precision application. The spreader was designed to incorporate the latest advancements in electronic controls and GPS guidance tools, technology that has been sweeping the ag community.

Additionally, BBI is launching its own brand of electronic controls under the name “BBI Electronics” and branded as the “Task Command System.” This advanced controls technology is in the final beta testing stage and will go to the field this summer.

Revolutionary Machine Nourishes Roots in a New Niche

Hagler’s willingness to experiment with spreaders and the associated technology recently drew the attention of a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARA) who approached Hagler to see if BBI could design an applicator that could efficiently redistribute poultry waste directly to a field’s root system.

“We went through a number of prototypes, but I think we’re getting close with the fourth-generation prototype,” says Hagler. “We manufactured six beta-testing machines that have been shipped off to the various universities around the country that are currently working with the USDA conducting a tremendous amount of testing that needs to occur prior to approval. The machine we created is the most efficient means of transferring poultry litter [bedding material and manure] directly from the hopper to the root system.”

The spreader, if approved, would alter the current landscape for farmers and establish BBI as a leader in the spreader manufacturing industry. “That’s an example of who BBI is,” continues Hagler. “It can be an in-house design or external, but it’s all about striving to be the leader in giving the market what it needs.”

The company currently sells the majority of its spreaders domestically, but Hagler is also currently working on a plan to increase BBI’s international sales. “We currently ship into China, Turkey and South America, but we’re talking with dealerships on other continents to expand our global reach,” reveals Hagler.

With a reputation for improving the financial performance of those who adopt the company’s spreaders, BBI should have little problem finding new customers for its granular material application solutions. Looking beyond BBI’s research and development prowess and the company’s dedication to serving the individual needs of each and every customer, Hagler points to BBI’s relationship with its vendors as a reason for the company’s success.

“I believe in building relationships with vendors and leveraging their strengths and finding ways that we can mutually benefit each other and accomplish goals so that we are both successful,” he explains. “If they want to grow with us, then we both win.”

BBI’s innovative approach to the industry and Hagler’s understanding that every product is cyclical has led the company through a rapid transformation from a small regional ag spreader manufacturer to a company that produces advanced-technology machines improving customers’ economics across North America and abroad, both for the resellers and end users. Under Richard Hagler’s leadership, Barron & Brothers International is poised to become a household name in agribusiness.