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

BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
John Deere F4365
Equipment2016 Product Of The Year Voting
September 13, 2016
For the ninth year in a row, CropLife IRON magazine is once again honoring this year’s Product of the Year. Below you Read More
Corn Field
FertilizerBridging Crop Nutrition Science And Technology
September 7, 2016
The future seemed to draw nearer for the 1,600-plus attendees of the co-located InfoAg and International Precision Agriculture conferences in St. Read More
Deere R4023 cab
Precision AgPrecision Ag Aids Fertilizer Programs
September 6, 2016
Whatever the farm economy may look like, retailers need to continue to develop a sound fertility program to reach the Read More
Trending Articles
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Osage Co-op Elevator Osage, IA Finished Building
OpinionAre We Crazy?
September 8, 2016
At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about Read More
ManagementMAGIE 2016 Highlights and Deere Anti-Trust
September 1, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj discusses the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition and the Department of Justice’s objection to John Deere Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Latest News
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More
Corn
Crop InputsEPA Settles With Syngenta For Alleged Multi-Regional Pe…
September 19, 2016
The U.S. EPA has announced a multi-region settlement with Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC (Syngenta) in Greensboro, NC, for alleged violations of Read More