BEKAERT & SPARR: Fencing with a Purpose
Published on Mon, 05/04/2015 - 1:18pm
By Susan Sands
It’s a team effort to help folks find the perfect product when it comes to their fencing needs. For many decades Sparr Building and Farm Supply has worked hand-in-hand with Bekaert and their local fencing installers to do just that. That’s something that Tom Buss always has on his mind, even when he’s not at work. Sparr has sold Bekaert products for five decades. “I live about 30 miles from the office,” he explained. “My backyard backs up on one of the last agricultural tracts in that area of Florida.” Buss enjoys looking out over the acreage that had at one time been a small cattle ranch. To his disappointment, in 2008 it was bought by a developer with the intention of turning it into 200 home sites. Due to the financial downturn happening at the time, it lay vacant a long while so Buss got to continue to enjoy his unobstructed view.
Then one day, while driving to work at Sparr Building and Farm Supply in Wildwood, he noticed that construction had started on the property. But instead of track houses going up, the original house was being renovated. “It was a beautiful piece of property with tremendous potential,” Buss recalled. Everyday on his drive to and from work as the Wildwood Store Manager, Buss noticed how quickly and efficiently everything seemed to be moving. He also noted that the quality of the work was top-notch. Just as you can often tell an artist by the style of their art, Buss thought the construction looked like that of Guil Bombonato of Archifence.
Bombonato was indeed the man working on the project, and had done a lovely decorative split rail fence. When it came time for functional fencing, Bombonato was also the man for the job. “We did a 6 strand Bekaert smooth fence on that Ocala ranch property that turned out great.”
It really caught Buss’ eye when he saw the Bekaert fencing go up. “I knew the fencing was one of our products, but it hadn’t come from our branch. I asked around and it had come from one of our other stores.”
“My mouth just dropped when I saw it,” said Buss of the changes the property was undergoing. Later, he was happy to see his branch of Sparr Building and Farm Supply supply Bekaert Gaucho® high strength barb wire fencing for the ranch, and to see more of the impressive work that was underway, up-close and personal. Rick McCall, Sparr’s Sales and Commodities Manager who works out of the Sparr store elaborated. “This customer had been doing business with Sparr for years. This ranch project was a really big one and eventually all three of our stores supplied products. We listened to his needs and provided him the best products for the best price.” The customer has a long-term relationship with brothers Sam and Paul Howard, the owners of Sparr, and the entire Sparr team has always worked together to meet the customer’s project needs — be it for a horse farm, cattle ranch, or a specialty project.
The project continued with a large barn being constructed. Whole timbers were brought in and the new roof was weathered so it would blend in with the original buildings. “The customer had some Angus cattle that were going to be on the property, so he came to us. It’s great when a customer wants the best because you can start from the top,” Buss explained. “Bekaert is synonymous with quality and this customer had used the product before and wanted it for this new project as well.” Fence contractor Bombonato echoed that sentiment. “Sparr stands behind every product, just as Bekaert does. I believe quality attracts quality and I’ve been honored to be working with Sparr, installing their products for 12 years now.
“I wouldn’t recommend their products to my clients if I didn’t believe in them; just like they wouldn’t recommend me if they didn’t believe in my work.” In Florida, fencing needs can range from a single cow or child’s pony, to a million-dollar racehorse or a herd of prized beef cattle. Sparr has found that Bekaert’s wide range of fencing products are able to meet all their customer’s livestock fencing needs. “People understand it makes sense to spend a little more upfront so you don’t have to replace or repair a fence as often,” said Buss. “Once people use Bekaert they understand the quality and how a longer-lasting fence saves money in the long run.” Bombonato has installed most of the Bekaert fencing products at this point in his career and he appreciates the durability and quality. “I like how Bekaert and Sparr stand behind the products — for me and for my clients. Everyone is very professional and I’m glad to be around and work with them.”
Sparr Building and Farm Supply
Bekaert, in fact, is the only company that will put such an extensive warranty on their wire and how long it will last. “Bekaert is so proud of their products,” explained Buss, “that if you buy a 20 year product and it fails before 20 years is up, it will be replaced because Bekaert offers limited warranties on their products.” Bekaert’s warranties are as long as 40 years (learn more here: http://fencing.bekaert.com/en/bekaert-fence-products/guaranteed-coatings ).
That type of warranty is especially meaningful in Florida where the salt off the sea is highly corrosive. “It’s actually the same type of problem folks have in colder climates where roads have to be salted for snow,” Buss said. “Not only do the folks at Bekaert stand behind their customer service, they give us the red carpet service as well. They truly have a grassroots approach to customer service that we appreciate.” Coming from a small, family-owned company that’s run by a second generation 68 years later, that type of endorsement truly means something. Sparr Building and Farm Supply serves their local community in Central Florida and, even with just three stores, their customers’ loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations have made them the largest farm fence provider in Florida.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go in this business, but since the beginning we try to do more than the client asks,” explained Bombonato. “That is how you survive tough economic times and do better in good times. Sparr and Bekaert are the same way, their customer service is above and beyond and that is why they have thrived.”
Mike Adams is the Bekaert representative that works hand-in-hand with the folks at Sparr. “Mike supports us and always takes the time to educate us and educate our customer. That’s a stress-free environment and he always provides great customer service for us. Mike has done training sessions at all our stores and gave us in-depth information. That puts us in a position of being experts about Bekaert products and better serving our customers.
“Next week, Mike and I will be going out and visiting with installers to check on their needs and get a birds-eye view of what is actually going on in the field. We always want to provide the best customer service possible,” said McCall.
“That’s what I enjoy about my job — offering that customer service,” shared Buss. “No one has the depth that we do. We’re better prepared than anyone else. We know our customers and anticipate their needs. We inventory and stock those things so we are able to put it on their doorstep tomorrow.”“In our part of the country, when it comes to Bekaert the most popular horse fencing with customers that come into our stores is the 4 foot tall, 200 foot roll. It has a Bezinal® coating equivalent to Class 3 wire in tensile strength, which is the strongest out there, and it’s one of the most economical for the value you’re getting,” said McCall. “The five-inch barbed wire is popular with our cattle folks and Bekaert’s field fencing is very popular. Bekaert has a solution for any project. We stock the most common fencing, but if the customer wants to do something different we can get it at a reasonable price and find a solution.” The ranch project in Ocala had a wide range of fencing needs. Buss and Bombonato had initially been impressed by the care and effort that was going into renovating, rejuvenating and rebuilding the ranch. When they found out what this dream property was actually going to be used for, they were thrilled.
“This man bought and developed this entire property to preserve it and to enhance the agricultural knowledge of kids,” said Buss. “It’s a place for kids to study and learn. This man believes in giving back to the next generation.”
The customer had worked with Sparr before and found the Bekaert fencing to be very good with a competitive price point. “The six strand we put up at the ranch looks attractive and what I like about it is that it is easy to go back and tighten it up. I have friends who have used the same thing with Angus cattle, but electrified it, and they also liked it a lot. I’ve used Bekaert’s high tensile and barbed wire and have always been very pleased.” Bekaert also supports the National 4-H Council organizationwhich is near and dear to Sparr. With every purchase of Bekaert’s premium barbed wire products Bekaert donates 1% of sales to the National 4H Council. Sparr Building and Farm Supply believes in supporting their local youth’s interest in equine and agricultural studies. They are involved with the Southeastern Youth Fair, FFA and 4-H.Sparr and their customer’s shared passion for these groups made the products they supplied, and the ultimate finished product, all that more meaningful. The restored farmhouse is now used for social events and charitable functions that support youth organizations.
“The whole project was amazing. He (our customer) is one cool guy and as noble as can be,” enthused Buss, who it turned out had actually worked on some of the customer’s horse farms years before. “I understand that he doesn’t want the accolades, but he not only saved one of the last remaining agricultural tracts in the region, he then made it even more beautiful and he did it all to benefit others.” Bekaert also has videos online to assist with the proper installation as well as tricks and tips of the trade. You can view them at fencing.bekaert.com. Helpful advice and videos are also available on their YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/draadbuddy.