PLAINVIEW, MINNESOTA— Dairyland Equipment Services, Inc. is looking forward to a busy 2017 as this multi-state company expands its sales of robotics milking systems.
According to Mark Jurgenson, Dairyland’s President, the greatest growth potential in dairy equipment sales and service is robotics. In fact, a 2015 a survey of Canadian dairy found that 70% of new miiking equipment bought was robotics.
“There’s room for everyone in dairy from large traditional dairies to organic milk producers,” Jurgenson said, adding that robotics makes sense when you consider workforce issues and animal health.
Typically, a robotic milking system from Lely costs roughly $185,000 per robot, depending upon options.
He added that Dairyland doesn’t provide only robotic technology. “We install milking systems from tie stall pipelines to large basement parlors to robot facilities. Our goal is to provide the best products and services tailored to each customer’s needs. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ in the dairy industry.”
Jurgenson said that technology is just one aspect of staying competitive, adding that today’s dairy operations are highly dependent on off-farm labor for milking with Hispanic and high school students making up a large part of the workforce.
“Dairies in our trade area range from 40 to 3,000 cows. But it’s normal to have one employee for every 60-65 cows, regardless of size.” he said. “It’s been challenging to find employees with the right mind set and a good worth ethic.” The pay scale for milkers and herdsmen ranges from $16-$25 per hour.
“Because of the higher skill set and technical knowledge required, every employee represents an investment. So retention is critical to continuity of service.” Jurgenson said. “Dairy operations want employees to be stable and capable,” adding that it takes four to five months to train an ag technician on the basics of the equipment, but they don’t hit their stride until 18 months on the job.
“Folks need to realize that ag and dairy producers are professionals,” he said, joking that it took a room full of engineers several years to figure out how to create a milking system that can calm and feed the cow while milking it and monitoring for udder health—all without laying a hand on the animal.
“To stay competitive, dairy producers are investing in systems that are driven by new technologies, whether they are using robotics or conventional milking parkers,” he said. He added that an increasing percentage of milk is being produced by large dairies because of the economies of scale and the complexity of the business.
“From a marketing standpoint, the dairy industry is relying more heavily on income from exports, so the strength of the US dollar internationally is of concern to dairy producers,” he said.
Dairyland Equipment is a full service dairy equipment dealership that carries product lines that include BouMatic, Lely, Calf-Star, DCC Waterbeds, A&L Laboratories, Eco-Lab, Bohlman, AIC, Red Barn Rubber Flooring Systems, Chem-Star Dairy Sanitation and SCCL.
Dairyland has a workforce of 25 employees located at the Plainview, Minnesota corporate headquarters, Montgomery, Minnesota and Woodville, Wisconsin. Dairyland’s customers are spread across 12 counties in southeastern Minnesota and 15 counties in West Central Wisconsin.
The business is owned by Mark and Karen Jurgenson, and Kevin and Cindy Fuerstneau. Its predecessor was established in 1968 as a BouMatic dealership in Plainview, MN. In 1992, Dairyland Equipment was formed and continued operation as a BouMatic dealership. In 2001, Dairyland expanded by purchasing Ralph’s Refrigeration in Baldwin, WI. It now operates that business as Dairyland Service, LLC out of Woodville, WI. In 2004, Dairyland acquired Pavek’s Dairy Sales in Montgomery, MN and now offers services from that location.
Mark Jurgenson and Kevin Fuerstneau are Plainview natives. Mark worked for Farm Credit Leasing in Atlanta, GA, where he worked with major ag companies, prior to returning to his hometown. Kevin founded Dairyland Equipment, and after pursuing other professional interests, is again active in the business.
For more information about Dairyland Equipment Services, Inc. call 507-534-3161 or go to www.dairylandequipment.com.