Since its founding back in 1970, Adams Fertilizer Equipment Co., DeWitt, AR, has been known for manufacturing many different kinds of products for the ag retail marketplace — from fertilizer blenders to large fertilizer tenders. Yet despite offering customers this varied product line-up, one unifying word has guided all of the company’s activities.
“Service,” says Shawn Hudspeth, General Manager. “Building quality equipment, stocking large parts inventory, being there during and after the sale, and providing it with great service is how Billy Adams founded our company, and it’s proved to be a very successful approach to business.”
Looking back at the history of Adams Fertilizer Equipment, it’s easy to see how this business model came to be. Originally founded as Industrial Iron Works, Inc., the company first made one mild steel 4-ton ground drive spreader. In 1975, one-half of Industrial Iron Works was sold to Billy C. Adams. He eventually purchased the entire company (in 1980) along with an engineer, Billy Wesley Adams.
“Back from the beginning, Billy [Adams] believed you have to be willing to listen to your customer and make changes as your customers’ needs change,” says Hudspeth. To this end, Adams Fertilizer Equipment has undergone numerous expansions of its facility in DeWitt to keep pace. According to Hudspeth, the company has expanded about 25 times during its 50-year history. “About every two years, there has been some sort of expansion of growth,” he says. The most recent just took place at the end of 2019, when Adams Fertilizer Equipment purchased another manufacturing building just southwest of DeWitt to use as a satellite plant to the main facility.
Looking to the Future
Like other companies across the U.S. in 2020, Adams Fertilizer Equipment has been dealing with ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to Hudspeth, this presented some challenges to overcome, such as the company not allowing its vendors to visit the headquarters building or allowing its employees to travel.
Still, if he were picking the biggest challenge that faced Adams Fertilizer Equipment this year, it was the tragic loss of Shane Adams, Billy C. Adams’ son, back in late May. “Shane actually ran our company until 2017, before being diagnosed with a terminal illness,” says Hudspeth. “After that point, he was still working daily but in a different role. When you lose a family member/friend/father/uncle like Shane, it leaves a void.
“There were several problems for Adams this year such as COVID-19 and our plant losing electricity for six days after a storm during our busiest time of year,” he continues. “But by far the worst challenge in 2020 was losing Shane.” In part because of the loss of Shane, Owner Billy C. Adams decided this past July the time had come to pass Adams Fertilizer Equipment into the hands of some new owners. On September 1, the company officially was sold to a new ownership trio — Scott Galloway, Todd Reppert, and Benny Petrus. All three have farming interests in and around the DeWitt, AR, area and in Texas. Adams Equipment was already in use on their farms before the purchase.
“My family owns an automobile dealership in nearby Stuttgart, and we always looked at Adams as a solidly run company,” says Petrus. “They were known for their quality products and great customer service, and this is something we definitely plan to continue as the new owners. My dad had a saying: ‘If you take care of the people in the back, i.e., service, the front will take care of itself.’”
Hudspeth agrees that this business approach by Adams Fertilizer Equipment will be maintained, now and into the long-term future. “We will continue during what we’ve done for the past 50 years,” he says. “We will invest in good people, manufacture quality equipment, service and listen to our customers, and continue to build relationships throughout the U.S. and internationally.”