Andy Gates, Gates Manufacturing on the Agriculture Technology Podcast
Even though he grew up with a manufacturing company right on his family’s homestead, Andy Gates didn’t officially become involved in the family business until 2009. Now, as President of Gates Manufacturing, Andy continues to lead the company; a company that itself has been a leader in product design and innovation since 1986.
Host Tony Kramer invited Andy on the podcast to discuss some of the specialty products Gates Manufacturing offers.
Here are a few of the highlights from the conversation. Listen to the full episode here.
First off, I’d really like to hear about your background and how you got started in the industry.
I’ll start with some background on Gates. This is officially our 30th year. My dad had been farming since the 60s and began manufacturing harrow tines in the 70s. He phased out of that, then in the early 80s, as equipment started to change and air seeders came out, he saw a need to build some things that didn’t exist. He started with a drill transport and packer wheels for early air seeders. The business has continued to grow throughout the years. We’ve innovated, brought more product online, and began doing export business with Russia, Australia, Ukraine, France, Canada, Romania and, most recently China.
How did you get involved in the business?
I grew up on the farm and started working in the shop up through high school. I went to college at NDSU then after, worked for other manufacturing companies for about 20 years. When my dad was nearing retirement age and started expressing interest in transitioning out of the business, I got involved. I’ve been involved since 2009, officially.
What does Gates Manufacturing have to offer for the harrow industry?
We manufacture a variety of what we call mounted harrows or attachment harrows that go on the back of tillage equipment. We manufacture them in 2, 3, and 4 bar configurations, and offer a variety of tine options.
What most people know us for is the heavy harrow which, in the late 80s, my dad pioneered. Then a number of other manufacturers followed suit with similar products.
Another thing he pioneered, and we got a patent on in early 2000s, was our Chrome Carbide Harrow Tine Tip. It’s still very popular; it increases life anywhere from 5-10 times, depending on the soil type you’re in.
A lot of our products are farmer-driven and farmer-originated. In the mid-90s, a gentleman approached my dad at a farm show in Regina, Saskatchewan. He had heavy wheat and barley stubble, and was having a tough time managing the residue. That led to the invention of another product of ours, the Coulter Harrow. It penetrates down through the stubble, and gets to the dirt so the teeth are more effective.
Sounds like you’ve developed a solution for everyone in the harrow product space.
That has been our niche, the residue management and that type of product. Being a shortline OEM manufacturer, we know if we overlap too much into the larger manufacturer’s product line, we won’t do very well. So it’s crucial to find and carve out that niche. We’ve found it works well, both for us as a manufacturer and from a customer perspective.
Another product you pride yourselves on and that’s fairly unique is the Coulter Disc. Tell us about that.
This was invented soon after the Coulter Harrow. The prototype was built around 2002. From a design perspective, it’s based on a tandem style disc. What we wanted to do is come up with something adjustable; there again with the residue, you could have a minimal amount in the field or a lot. So we thought of something adjustable that performs well in wet conditions.
Do you have any success stories you could share with us?
Our equipment performs well in wet conditions and there have been some really challenging years in North Dakota. In the Devils Lake area, we’ve seen that lake actually grow and a lot of farmland lost. I have a customer up there and, in 2013, he was really struggling. He was still combining corn into the spring and needed to get that turned around to start planting. We had just come out with a new series of our Coulter Disc, so I took the implement out there and was able to work four quarters of corn ground, about 600 acres. He ended up being able to plant soybeans and edible beans.
Learn more about Gates Manufacturing at its website.
Andy shared more of his customer’s success story, including the results of his late-season bean crop. He and Tony also went into greater detail about Gates Manufacturing’s products and ways they’re innovating with technology, so please listen to the entire episode. Catch up on older episodes, and be sure to subscribe to the Agriculture Technology podcast so you never miss an episode.
Host Tony Kramer is a product specialist at RDO Equipment Co. To contact Tony with questions or about being a guest on the podcast, find him on Twitter at @RDOTonyK.