Tanks Still Shining

Mid-State Tank Group of Products
Mid-State Tank Group of Products

Though worries about the impact of the drought are the topic of many conversations in ag, tank makers we talked with say they are not overly concerned. First off, many growers have crop insurance that will cover their losses. And, in fact, some farmers are seeing “phenomenal successes” with yields, reports Sid Lockhart, marketing manager with Meridian Manufacturing, a firm that does business across North America.

In fact, sales are strong for all sizes of tanks, from capacities of 2,000 gallons on up to 2 million — and customers include large-scale retailers and growers. Both fiberglass and steel units are moving well.

“A few people have backed off buying tanks, but overall business has been very good,” says Ron Lager, sales manager with Precision Tank & Equipment (PT&E). While low corn yields will leave some phosphate and potash in fields, nitrogen will be needed in various forms including liquids, he says — and his company’s tanks will be needed.

PT&E has again seen particular growth in fiberglass tank sales, to the point where the firm had to add more machinery to handle increased fiberglass production at its recently expanded plant. The reason, Lager believes, is due to the longevity and low maintenance of fiberglass tanks.

Dennis Neal, president of Enviropac, Inc. says larger national customers are continuing with expansion plans — and buying his company’s fiberglass tanks — in spite of drought and economic conditions.

At Mid-State Tank, Tom Munro reports that sales of nurse tanks at the company also grew in 2012, but he believes it is too early to tell if this market will be affected by drought issues.

“Demand for and use of liquid tanks is definitely on the increase, whether it’s large agribusiness or on-farm,” says Lockhart. Meridian builds single-walled, multi-purpose hopper bins for liquid fertilizer. Actually, the coated, smooth-walled stainless steel design allows use for liquid fertilizer, grain, granular fertilize, or water, depending on the time of year.

Large-Scale Challenges

Heartland Tank LLC makes large-scale, field-erected tanks that range from 300,000 to four million gallons, and Chris Brooks, U.S. sales manager, says his staff is still “real busy.” He has eight crews doing construction exclusively for the fertilizer industry — and “we’re quoting March or April before we can start another tank,” he reports.

Brooks says a big part of each project is getting a foundation laid for the huge tanks, and that can take months. The foundations need to be carefully designed and require a registered engineer from a retailer’s state, one that knows local soils. He is telling customers they need to do six to nine months of pre-planning.

Brooks also manages sales for Heartland Tank Services, which provides inspections of tank containment systems. Many states now require an API 653 inspection by a certified inspector after so many years, with the frequency varying by state. Brooks’ crew follows The Fertilizer Institute recommended guidelines of inspections every five years. His two two-man teams will check out anywhere from 130 to 170 fertilizer tanks per year.

Neal reports that as retailers start to do API 653 inspections for the first time on big tanks with Enviro-Coat protector inside, “they’re telling us that the tanks look absolutely fantastic. It’s confirmation that the product is doing what we all anticipated it to do.”

Heartland Tank Services also sells and repairs PVC flexible membrane liners, also called bladders, which become a tank’s primary containment. The systems include leak monitoring behind and underneath the bladder.

Butch Kirk, president and CEO of International Tank Service, Inc. (ITS) says business has been quieter on the fertilizer front for his firm — which also builds large tanks for asphalt, crude oil, gasoline, jet fuel, and potable water. “It’s the same tank, it wears a lot of hats,” he says. “You just have to do that these days.”

Kirk believes this is a great time for fertilizer retailers to buy, with U.S. steel prices level or trending slightly downward — especially considering half the price of a tank build is in steel costs.

Containment Update

Again this year, Hunter Agri-Sales’ Plia-Pad unit has seen the most sales, especially as more and more states become concerned about run-off at airports, says Ken Hunter, president.

He also noted that the Plia-Pad now comes in a new synthetic material that is resistant to most chemicals and solvents, making it ideal for secondary containment. The material has been used in Plia-Dikes to line concrete chemical dikes that are cracking — and it contains fertilizer and petroleum products as well.

Meridian will soon be releasing a “pretty exciting” semi-stationary dike option, in great part in answer to customer requests for the containment.

Lockhart says double-walled tanks are a good containment solution. Meridian has been promoting this option for on-site fuel storage — versus single-walled tanks. Sales of the units have doubled every year as producers see the need for on-farm fuel, Lockhart explains.

The design includes containment within the unit and allows buyers flexibility and the choice to move a tank as a facility expands. In liquid fertilizer, the double-walled option for smaller tanks may still be considered a bit too costly.

Concerns For The Future

Because of outstanding demand for their products, tank manufacturers have found one of the biggest challenges they face has been the lead time they now need to build. And getting the staff to do the building is a real challenge. Lockhart says his firm struggles to find both the quantity and quality of labor needed to keep up with demand. Meridian has done “quite a bit” of expansion at its facilities the last few years, to create enough production capacity.

A number of tank experts we talked with emphasized the need to plan ahead — a lot — when purchasing a tank. “Even if a customer wants to expand next year, they need to start the discussion and planning now,” says Lockhart.

Neal admits that lead times at his company are getting long because sales are so good. It sounds like a good thing to a point, he says, but some possible buyers are deciding to wait to order.

Leave a Reply

Equipment Stories

IEI Barge Fertilizer Potash Port Terminal
EquipmentLegacy Building Solutions Receives Design-Build Merit Award
February 27, 2017
When IEI Barge Services needed a building capable of storing and loading fertilizer, they turned to Legacy Building Solutions to Read More
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With VaporGrip Technology
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Award
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator With G5 Technology
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
Greystone Construction built the tension membrane fertilizer storage building (left) and steel seed treater building (right)
CropLife 100Pinnacle Announces Successful Exchange Offer Results An…
February 27, 2017
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has announced today the early tender results of its previously announced offer to exchange (the “Exchange Read More
IEI Barge Fertilizer Potash Port Terminal
EquipmentLegacy Building Solutions Receives Design-Build Merit A…
February 27, 2017
When IEI Barge Services needed a building capable of storing and loading fertilizer, they turned to Legacy Building Solutions to Read More
ManagementSouth Africa Update and the New New Leader G5
February 24, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the recent visit to South Africa by sister magazine AgriBusiness Global and the Read More
Fall Creek Watershed
StewardshipUpdate: Nutrient Stewardship In Indiana Requires Cool, …
February 24, 2017
Update: The application deadline for NCRS funding has been extended to March 17, 2017. Green leaves sparkle in the sunlight. Trees Read More
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With Vapor…
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Hires Manitoba And Eastern Canada Account Man…
February 22, 2017
Tiger-Sul, a global leader in sulphur fertilizers and crop performance products, has announced that sales veteran Trevor Loewen has joined Read More
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More