Turning Tiny Planters Into Big Business
Donnie Fox is one of the many central Illinois farmers that like to do business with Jay Harris of J.O. Harris Sales near Alexander.
"I'm buying parts, parts for my planter, scrapers," Fox said. "Because they have good service, good parts, and they're cheap, have good prices."
But one of the biggest draws here is the planters for sale.
"What we do is we build a bar, we take old planters, take them apart, rebuild them, repaint them, and put them all back together," Harris said. "Like a two-row, four-row, or six-row, or even like some 15- and 20-inch row planters, for plots and whatever a guy wants."
But in a world filled with 24- and 36-row planters, these things are downright small.
"A lot of them we build for either sweet corn, or farmers spotting in, seed corn companies, or we've got some small farmers that just want a nice little small planter," Harris said. "Because it's gotten kind of hard to find the small planters. There's a lot of big equipment out there today, but not a lot of small stuff."
Building these things is what keeps Jay's guys, like Jordan Keyes, busy.
"I'm working on a kinze, 11-row, 15-inch spacing," Keyes said. "When we got it, it was just the bar, putting all the units on. I'm currently putting a wiring harness on it, so we can go and get your population and everything, make sure it's planting."
Meanwhile, Revy Hampton is putting the finishing touches on some units.
"Row units, rebuilding them," Hampton said. "Putting new blades, scrapers, gauge wheels, and sometimes closing wheels on them."
These custom planters aren't just being built for the local farmers.
"We sell, any more, pretty well all over the world," Harris said. "We sell a lot of the equipment that goes over to Europe, into the Ukraine and Russia. We also deal with a lot of customers in Africa and Central America. It's like, everybody likes American-made products. And it's more a trust--I mean, when you're dealing that far from home, you kind of have to develop a relationship with these people."
That's probably a little easier when you're the third generation owning and operating a business right on the family farm.
"My grandpa grew up with it, my dad and uncle have, and I have too," Harris said. "And hopefully my kids will too."
Reporting in Morgan County, Mike Brooks, ABC NewsChannel 20.