Bekaert Fencing: As Strong As You Are
Published on Mon, 08/31/2015 - 12:54pm
By Steve Weisman
Successful farming/ranching requires great planning and decision-making. Producers are constantly looking at inputs and outputs to determine how to get the best bottom line.
The old adage spending a little to make a lot can definitely fit into this equation. For farmers and ranchers, pride in the land, the cattle and in the equipment are important parts of their livelihood. Bekaert’s fencing products (fencing.bekaert.com) provide innovative solutions for growing crops and raising cattle, horses, hog, sheep and goat as well as many other animal applications. In addition, Bekaert fences are used to exclude humans or predatory animals. They offer traditional wire products, such as Gaucho® and Gaucho® Pro Cattleman® barbed wire, as well as fences with specific tensile strength and corrosion resistance requirements like Solidlock® Pro fixed-knot fences.
Obviously, not all fencing is equal. That’s why Bekaert offers a variety of American-made fencing products that guarantee superior quality with a longer-lasting result in a variety of ranching and farming settings. According to Kurt Darden, Sales Manager for Bekaert’s agricultural division, “Bekaert wants our customers to have success in farming, not just success in fencing. Therefore it is imperative to think about the lower total cost of ownership for their farm including all the products and resources being utilized.”
Let’s take a look at the stories of actual Bekaert fencing users. We have categorized them into three types: heritage, part-timer and progressive. Each producer uses their experiences and business sense to determine the best products for their application.
Two heritage farmers, Don Nevill and Vic Anderson have farming in their blood, which provides a unique viewpoint. Each day they take into consideration the decisions past generations have made along with how their current decisions impact future generations. The focus is on what products will last their lifetime and beyond.
Taking Family Farming to the Next Level
For 59-year-old Don Nevill, farming has always been in his blood. After all, his ancestors came to the Clare, Michigan, area in the 1800s, first working in the lumber camps and later homesteading the very farm that Nevill lives on today. Today, they farm approximately 1,000 acres and raise 160-180 brood cows.
As a farmer, Nevill appreciates the fact that Bekaert is a family-owned business, and they understand their product and customers. “I have met most of the people in the company, nearly all of them have a history with fencing.”
Since the 1980s, Nevill and his wife, Deborah, have owned Nevill Fence Supply (www.nevillfencesupply.net) in Clare. They along with son Andrew have built a business that carries a wide variety of products for the agricultural industry including fence and trellis post, wire, deer fence supplies, orchard and vineyard fence, livestock and grazing supplies, baler twine and landscaping mulch.
Nevill says a huge part of his business is being a Bekaert fence distributor. Simply put, Nevill believes Bekaert fencing is the highest quality. “Bekaert wire is known for its longevity and quality of materials,” says Nevill. “We have some Bekaert fences that are over 30 years old, and they are still in excellent condition.”
If customers have a fencing question, they know they can go to Nevill for the answer. After all, he has a full-time five-man fencing crew. “Except for about 60 days, we’re putting in fence until deep snow and frost sets in in January. Then we rebuild and fix equipment and get right back at it.”
It is here that Nevill uses a wide range of Bekaert fencing material. “With all of the wildlife here in Michigan, we do a lot of fencing for wildlife exclusion. I guess you could say we’ve fenced out about any kind of wildlife and fenced in everything from lions to tigers to camels — just about every kind of exotic!”
However, when Nevill and his crew install a fence for cattle, the 12-gauge Solidlock® Pro fixed-knot fence is one that he installs the most. “There are lots of reasons, but it is the most popular for the economy of it, you can space posts out up to 20 feet and it’s still exceptionally strong. With a crew, I can build this as economically as a five-strand barbed wire fence.”
Big Sky Country Ranching: Rugged and Beautiful
For 44-year-old Vic Anderson, every day is a good day, knowing that he’s going to get to work on the family ranch homesteaded by his great uncle back in 1917. The 5,000-acre ranch, which is located near Great Falls, Montana, is home to 375 Angus/Simmental cross cattle.
Until November of 2014, when his dad passed away, Vic worked together with his father, Gary, helping him with the ranch side of the business and also Deep Creek Outfitters
(www.deepcreekoutfitters.com) and Heaven on Earth Ranch.
As far as the ranch goes, Vic says he has spent many a day putting in and replacing fencing purchased from North 40 Outfitters. “I would guess we have over 25 miles of fencing, and it takes a lot of work when you have to keep repairing and replacing fence. This is elk and deer country, and they are always crossing our fences. They have to be well-built to withstand the wildlife and the harsh winter snowdrifts.”
Seven years ago, Vic and his dad did a single mile-long test with four-wire 14-gauge Gaucho® Pro Cattleman® 40 barbed wire. “We knew this would be a true test, because this area is one that always gets huge snowdrifts, and in the past we have always had to redo that area every year. Well, it’s been seven years, and except for a staple here and there, we have had to do nothing to the fence. As a result, each time we replace fences now, it’s with Bekaert fencing.”
Vic adds, “Nothing is flat. Everything is up and down and crazy — the worst terrain possible. It’s difficult land to build fences. However, we’ve found Bekaert fencing goes up much faster, and you don’t have to spend time stretching and re-stretching. It’s just tighten, and you’re done. That’s why we replace everything with Bekaert as we go!”
Part of Vic’s father’s vision for the ranch came into being in the late 1970s, when he started Deep Creek Outfitters. According to Vic, Deep Creek Outfitters offers a wide range of vacation options: big game hunting, cutthroat trout fishing on the Smith River, float-ins and even just a kick-back and relax stay at the guest ranch.
A large segment of farmers and ranchers are those that do it for the love of farming but also have non-farming full time jobs. Brandi and Jerry Fortney and Mike Giles are both great examples of balancing farming and other responsibilities. They have found that getting the right products makes it all work.
Merging the Love of Farming and a Successful Business
Both Brandi and Jerry Fortney grew up as farm kids in rural Oklahoma, but for a variety of reasons left the farm for several years before being drawn back to the farm life. Brandi says, “We both got back into farming around 15 years ago, but each of us was on our own. Jerry and I laugh now, because we didn’t even know each other until only a few years ago. We actually went to the same cattle sales and our paths never crossed. Then we met and found out that we had so many commonalities with the exact same goals personally and professionally. So, we have decided to go for it.”
They are building their lives and their farm together, owning 35 acres, while leasing about 1,000 acres from other landowners. Bekaert fencing has been an integral part of their growth together. “We are super impressed with Bekaert’s longevity, quality and strength, along with low maintenance. As we work with our leased land, as we fix and replace the fences, we are using a lot of 14-gauge Gaucho® Pro Cattleman® 20 barbed wire.”
In May of 2014, Brandi and Jerry started Fortney Farm and Feed in Kellyville, Oklahoma. “We started from nothing,” says Brandi. “Our shelves were pretty bare to start with,” she says with a laugh. “Although we knew what we like and use on our farm, we knew we needed to listen to our customers and stock what they wanted. Each and every day we have new customers come in to the store. So, we are building our customer base as we go.”
An area of huge growth for Fortney Farm and Feed has been the fencing market. “Our customers have all liked Bekaert fencing. They like how it installs, the strength and its low maintenance.”
Brandi notes that she and Jerry actually sell to three types of fencing customers: cattlemen, horse owners and goat owners. “Each has specific fencing needs. The cattlemen are looking for 14 gauge Gaucho® Pro Cattleman® 20 barbed wire, while the horse owners are looking for rolls of 12 gauge Gaucho® 40 Non-Climb mostly in 60" but up to 72" heights. Goat owners are looking for rolls of 14 gauge Gaucho® High Strength (tensile) Non-Climb sheep and goat. I have goats, and they are escape artists and can actually jump over four feet!”
For Brandi and Jerry, it’s definitely learning on the go, but then that’s part of the thrill of growing a business. “Our goal is to help our customers find the best product for their needs. We want to educate, guide and help them as much as we can.”
Family Being Family
For 56-year-old Mike Giles and his wife, Caryl, their farm near Franklin, Tennessee, is their sanctuary. “I’ve been on a farm ever since I can remember.” Although Mike works full time for Central Farm Supply as a regional salesman, he and his wife, along with their 26-year-old and 16-year-old sons, work together to raise replacement heifers (Angus/Charolais cross), taking them from approximately 480 pounds to about 800 pounds. “That’s really all we can do right now, as busy as all four of us are,” says Mike.
“These replacement heifers are really something when we first get them home. They are wild, and it will take up to two weeks for them to settle down. After that, they get used to us and will come right up to us for feed.”
The good news? Not one has ever gotten out! The solution? Bekaert fencing! “We have a one-acre pen that we put them in, and right away we made the choice to go with the 12-gauge Solidlock® Pro fixed-knot fence. I know that it is the strongest woven wire fence you can buy.”
Mike built the fence with wood posts 15' apart, and he says he has yet to see an animal make a “dent” in the fence. “Like I say, they are wild, and we’ve seen them take off right into the fence and simply bounce back. A big key here to help protect the heifers is that we don’t pound the staple in to make the fence tight with the post. We leave a little gap, which gives a spring back. The fence stays good, and the heifers are unhurt.”
Mike says time is crucial with all the things going on, so “we try to make things as efficient as we can. That’s what Bekaert fencing does for us. It’s incredibly strong, long-lasting and cost efficient. It is just plain a beautiful fence.”
The Giles family is really excited for the future. “We just bought another farm, and this will help us expand our herd.” However, it is wide open: no fences.
“You can bet it’ll be Bekaert,” says Mike with a laugh. “It’s going to take all of us to get this done, but then that’s family being family!”
The progressive farmer is the true melting pot of farmers: he takes what he’s learned from his past but is willing to try something different and choose what’s going to work best for his needs.
Investing in a Lifetime
Mike Lagasse and his wife, Erica, purchased Circle L Feed Store (www.circlelfeedandhardware.com) in Quitman, Arizona, in 1999 and the couple has worked hard to be as Mike says, “A one-stop shop for everything needed for your farm or home, lawn, garden, and even your pets. We strive to be very knowledgeable about all of our products and customers can get their questions answered in a friendly, professional manner.”
As both a farming family and store owners, Mike and Erica realize the importance of product selection, quality and price. As farmers, they have had the chance to learn first hand about the products they handle, while as store owners, they have been able to hear from their customers.
Mike and Erica got into family farming in 2002. Today, they run a cow/calf herd of around 310 head. “We have a spring and fall calving group, because we found that by selling calves twice a year we could get more uniform groups.”
This is where the fencing becomes very important, because when you wean cows from their calves and there is just a fence between them, it better be built to last! “Over the years, we’ve used several wire manufacturers, but we have come to trust Bekaert. We build our fence as an investment and as insurance. I am a firm believer that a fence should last a lifetime.”
Lagasse says he’s used exclusively 14-gauge Gaucho® Pro Cattleman® barbed wire on his own fences, but he has a lot of customers that buy 15.5 gauge Gaucho® 30 High Strength (tensile) barbed wire, because it’s smaller in diameter, weighs less, requires less maintenance and is very cost-effective. Plus it has a 30-year galvanized limited guarantee. “We sell a lot of Bekaert products, and in all of these years, I have never had a complaint. We continue to sell more every year through word of mouth. I am a firm believer that your fence should be the last one in your lifetime!”
It’s All About Choices
No one farmer or farm is the same; each brings to the table their experiences and values which directly impact their decisions. But each decision is geared toward allowing them to run a successful farm. Bekaert is able to provide a fence that meets any need whether it’s picking the best fence that will be used by future generations or the progressive farmer that did his research, tested different types and decided what best worked or perhaps the farmer that is looking for easy installation and a long life so they can focus on both farming and their primary business.
Whatever the choice, farmers can always depend on Bekaert’s responsibility to its customers. Bekaert Fencing: As strong as you are!