By Steve Weisman
You know you’re doing something right when the same family has been in business as an integral part of Midwest agriculture for nearly 100 years, expanding from the humble beginnings of one local farmer who wanted a better product for himself and his neighbors, to an extended family business in 2012 with 65 employees. Hanson Silo Company of Lake Lillian, MN is a four-generation agricultural business that has immersed itself in the farming tradition with the commitment of producing the best quality livestock feed storage and handling equipment, grain storage, precast concrete products, and powder coating industries.
Gregg Hanson, CEO of Hanson Silo Company, says, “I am truly proud of our company’s legacy, and look forward to the future. As a fourth generation business we have learned that good times don’t last forever and neither do bad times; they both come back. Hanson Silo, like its dairy producers, has learned to roll with the bumps and come out stronger in the long run. Our network of customers, suppliers and employees includes an incredible list of people with whom we have built lasting relationships.
Fifty percent of our current employees today have been working for Hanson Silo for anywhere from 20 to 40 years, and their experience is invaluable. We are optimistic to partner with our customers to ensure that the next project is a success. From our first silo built in 1916 that held 25 tons of feed to our 3.5 million bushel grain storage bunkers of today, the company has been resilient of the times.”
The 60+year old Hanson and his two sons, 36-year-old Matt and 29-year-old Mike provide the leadership for the continued growth of Hanson Silo Company. As Mike, who is Director ofBusiness Development, puts it, “Matt and I grew up with Hanson Silo Company,” and except for taking time to earn college degrees, they have been part of the company’s expansion all along.
Matt, President of Hanson Silo since 2007, says, “Our great employees have been one of our biggest assets in not only supporting our legacy business units but also helping us go wide open into new products and markets. We embrace the changes that we have experienced and have enjoyed implementing new, improved technology to do a better job for our customers.”
It all began in 1915 when great grandfather Emil Hanson, who was a local farmer near Lake Lillian, MN, started searching for a silo for his farm. Unfortunately, what he found was a series of poorly constructed silos in the area. After studying their construction, Emil realized that it had to do with the composition of the concrete used to construct the silos. The sand used for the concrete was full of dirt and clay, definitely not a combination for quality concrete.
Emil, whose farm was along the shores of Lake Kandiyohi, came upon the idea of using sand from the beach along the lake. Of course, this fine, washed sand was perfect for making quality concrete. Today, this same type of washed sand is used worldwide by concrete manufacturers, and with it the storied history of Hanson Silo Company began.
Although growth and expansion are part of the story, the farming tradition has remained at Hanson Silo, as well as the commitment to producing the best quality product for the dollar. Over the years the development of new Hanson products like the dome silo roof for tower silos in 1938 and the Hanson silo unloader in 1961 has shown our commitment to meeting the needs of our customer by providing quality materials, pride in personal workmanship, and simplicity in engineering, continue to be the trademark at Hanson Silo.
As growth has occurred, the Hanson family has always attempted to address needs in the agriculture industry. When quality accessories have not been available, Hanson Silo Company has designed and manufactured those accessories. Behind each product, Hanson Silo offers customers service, dependability, strength, quality workmanship and personal pride in a valuable product.
From its beginnings as a silo manufacturer, Hanson Silo Company today offers a wide range of new silo options and repair, precast concrete bunker silos, grain storage systems, commodity storage, and feed bunk, fertilizer storage, seed storage and fence line feed bunks.
Other state-of-the-art products include the Valmetal line of unloaders including the Hanson and Valmetal Silo Unloaders, plus the Extron grain bunker management cloud-based system. Hanson Silo also offers three different types of choppers: the Bale Processor, Self Propelled Bedding Chopper and the Agri Chopper, along with the Valmetal Grain-O-Matic unloader system.
Finally, Hanson Silo’s powder coat paint and manufacturing segment provides fabrication, welding and assembly and powder coat painting services for customers.
The expansion of Hanson Silo Company has always occurred to meet the needs and demands of the agricultural producers. Mike notes, “You travel around the area and there are still Hanson silos standing today that were erected in 1920’s. In whatever we do, we follow the mission and the four cornerstones or values of Hanson Silo Company.”
Mission: to draw upon nearly a century of experience and success to sup-
port and enrich the agricultural and industrial communities through innovative manufacturing, industry-leading products and customer-focused services.
Ingenuity – innovative efforts that inspire new possibilities
Lean – efficiency that maximizes resources and avoids wasteful practices
Diligence – persistent hard work committed to excellence and a job well done
Flexibility – diverse talent and approach with a positive attitude
Demand for Hanson Silo products has led to developing dealers across the core states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. However, Mike notes that the company reaches out nationwide. “We’ve touched about every state, including most recently in Tennessee, New York, Washington and Louisiana.” Although Hanson Silo Company still erects, maintains and services silos, Mike says the market has changed and producers are going more and more toward concrete bunker systems for storage. “We think part of it has to do with the increased commodity prices, so any spoilage is very costly. When producers upgrade their feeding center from rollover ground piles to one of our bunker systems, there is an almost immediate return in investment not only with the decrease in spoilage but also the increased amount of feed they can put up in their bunkers. In some cases, producers have seen a 30 percent drop in spoilage. With the freestanding bunker walls, we can actually decrease the footprint of the feed area, while increasing the amount of feed that can be stored, this is the most economical expansion rather than taking valuable acres out of crop production with large flat pads.”
“Our precast concrete panels are produced in a controlled environment, so we can assure our customers that they will be getting both high quality and uniformity with each panel,” says Mike. Time means money, and the pre-cast panels reduce building time, labor costs and provide a quicker turnaround. At the same time, the producer does not have to establish footings, because the panels can be used as free-standing. With the modular construction, any length and width can be used and heights come in seven different heights, ranging from 5’ to 16’. At the same time, Hanson Silo Company can help producers utilize their already constructed building by installing bunker walls inside the existing building.
“We can provide the crew to come in and erect a bunker system, or producers can install the system themselves and save additional money. It is up to the producer.” Bunker systems have a wide range of uses in addition to storing grain and silage. Hanson Silo Company has built sand and salt storage and recycling center wall facilities, coal containment systems, aggregate and mulch storage for landscapers, livestock manure storage, weeping manure walls, retaining walls among other uses.
In November of 2011, Hanson Silo Company acquired the patented Easy Rake Silage Facer product line from Riverview LLP of Morris, MN, an employee-owned dairy producer, who invented the Easy Rake. “We are really excited about the Easy Rake,” says Mike. “There is basically no maintenance, no moving parts and it’s very effective in preserving silage in a safe manner.” He continues, “Mechanical facers demand a lot of maintenance and they break down the length of cut producers work hard to attain, which hurts milk production. We know that the Easy Rake will increase the quality of the feed for the cattle, which will in turn increase milk production. It also gives Hanson Silo Company more access to North American livestock producers through dealers and expands the reach as well as complements Hanson’s existing bunker silos.”
The Easy Rake is available in different sizes, which will target all sizes of producers. Easy Rakes can fit on skid steer loaders, telehandlers, and front end loaders. With no moving parts, maintenance is eliminated, and it preserves particle length of the silage, thus offering a superior feed source.
That’s the way Gregg, Matt and Mike look at the future of Hanson Silo Company. It’s been around for nearly a hundred years, so why not another hundred! “Right now we have customers of ours that have bought from us for the past three generations,” adds Mike. “The dairy world has evolved over that time, and so has Hanson Silo Company. We are continually trying to meet the needs of dairy producers as the dairy industry continues to change. We are also proud of being user friendly at Hanson Silo in the use of our interactive website.” All products and specifications are listed along with several YouTube videos that help tell the story and prove that one picture/video is worth a thousand words!