Getting Started with Technology - Ep. 1
We all have to start somewhere… And Ag Leader wants to make sure you start off on the right foot. Keep listening to find out where your journey in precision ag technology could begin!
Matt, Evan and Russ Background
Russ: For many years, farmers were tied down to the constraints of the land and input costs. As commodity demand has increased, farmers have continued to look for new solutions that might help them regain some control over their operations. In attempts to address these challenges, Ag leader has engineered solutions to maintain the integrity of the land while increasing efficiency production and farmer’s overall well-being, while helping them to make decisions for the future. One of these solutions, the on-the-go Yield Monitor was first made commercially successful by the CEO of Ag Leader, Al Myers.
Now discussing some of these newer solutions with me today are product manager Matt Pifkin, and product sales specialist, Evan Watson. And I just wanna take a second to welcome you to season two of the Ag Leader podcast. Thanks for being my guest today.
Matt: No problem. Thanks for having us.
Russ: That’s what we call in the industry, an awkward silence. So first thing I’ll do is talk to you guys a little bit about kind of where you came from how you made it to be at Ag Leader, and then we’ll kind of get into a little bit of the, of the meat and potatoes about it.
So, Matt, I’m gonna start with you. Where are you from? How did you get to Ag Leader? What’s your journey getting to be where you’re at today?
Matt: Well, I’m from a small town in Illinois. Kind of on the Mississippi River, and I do not come from an agricultural background, but come from an agricultural community.
Spent some time in the military and I’ve always had a keen interest in agriculture. And so after my military time, I went to Iowa State University and studied ag systems technology. Left, Iowa State and needed a job, and I was lucky enough to have a roommate that was working at Ag Leader and I was able to land a job here out of college.
Russ: That’s actually very similar to mine. I didn’t have a job. We were a week away from graduation. I happened to have a class with a guy that worked here, so that’s how I got, so I got my in.
Evan: Yeah, it’s, that’s exactly the same as me. So it was, it was very lucky to have a roommate with some experience, some insight to tell me how awesome it was to work here.
Russ: Excellent. Excellent. Evan, same question to you. What’s your background? Tell us a little bit about your family and how you got here.
Evan: Sure. So, grew up in a small town southwest Ohio. My uncle and dad have a small operation, about 500 acres or. You know, kind of grew up liking farming and, want to pursue an ag degree when I was in college, so I went to Ohio State University …
Russ: whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You went to the Ohio State.
The Ohio State University. That is correct. That is correct. Majored in agriculture systems management. I kind of had a keen interest in precision ag technology and it just so happened. The fraternity that I was in, one of the members actually had an internship with Ag Leader Technology and I listened to his presentation that he gave at one of the club meetings and, kind of got me excited and I decided to pursue an internship with Ag Leader.
So, I actually worked in the hardware tech support department, and I believe Pifkin at the time was in charge of the GPS side of things, on the hardware, or I’m sorry, on the GPS tech support side. So kind of full circle there. Left and then, got my degree. Went to work for equipment manufacturer, as a precision technology specialist. And then, went to work for an independent dealer who sold Ag Leader products and then came on board with Ag Leader yet again. So, yeah, full circle.
Excellent. Excellent. Well, Matt, now I know you were here for quite a while. You’re here for a while, and then you took off for, what, some of our other employees have called sabbaticals in the past, and then you came back. I’m just curious what brought you back after all?
Matt: Yeah. Well we had two small children and we don’t have family in the Ames area and that was getting a little bit difficult to manage two small children and two people with pretty interactive careers.
So we moved to my wife’s hometown, my wife’s family farms quite a few acres up near Waterloo, Iowa. And, we moved back up there. I pursued a career with a filtration company up there and then ended up managing a John Deere dealership in Waterloo, Iowa. All along, I still was a bleed blue Ag Leader guy.
The entire time I had been gone and through the experiences we’ve all had with Covid, the idea of remote work and the acceptance of remote work, especially at companies like Ag Leader really became a thing and it allowed me to pursue an opportunity to come back to Ag Leader, a company and a product line and an environment, that’s near and dear to my heart. And pursue a new career here. When I left Ag Leader the first time, I was working in the engineering department as an engineering technologist, working on a few different projects. And I had some experience in tech support as well as in product management. And now I’m, I’ve come back full circle, back into the product management group and I am the product manager for the steering products now. So I think it was just a great opportunity that bloomed out of a pandemic to come back and have a lot of fun and work with people that I like to work with.
Russ: There weren’t tons of things that great that came out of the pandemic, but agreed. That’s one of ’em was, some flexibility.
Russ: So, Evan, a lot of folks may not know this about you. When you were at the dealership, you were actually the precision ag guy for a YouTube influencer. You wanna talk a little bit about that?
Evan: Sure. So yeah, I was the, service technician for, Brian Brown, Brian’s farming videos.
So, developed a good relationship with him and Bob when I was actually at the Cat dealership that I worked at. And then they kind of came over along with me, at the dealership level, at the independent dealer, Precision Agri Services and the relationship blossomed from there.
You know, it was great to work with them, great family. Definitely helped promote some, Ag Leader products and, hopefully continue to.
Russ: And I understand that you gave them such good service that they gave you a nickname. Would you care to reveal what that nickname was?
Evan: Yeah, so I guess I’ve been coined the name Dr. Watson because I’ve always been out there servicing their equipment and, yeah. So it’s Dr. Watson, but, I’ve been called Worse Things in life, so, I’ll roll with it.
Russ: As long as they don’t call you late to dinner, that’s really what’s important.
Evan: There, there you go. There you go.
The Value Beyond the Investment
Russ: All right. All right. Very good.
You guys definitely have some specialties at, at Ag Leader, let’s kind of try to use that. We’ll pick at your brains a little bit and see if we can learn something today. We’ll talk about guys that might be newer to precision ag getting started with it in particular, and when it comes to getting started with that.
Evan, you know, at the dealership level especially, and even now in your new role, you do talk to a lot of guys at conferences and trade shows. When you’re talking to growers to recommend something, how do you find out their pain points?
What questions do you ask and trying to get them the right answers for getting started in precision ag.
Evan: Sure. It kind of boils down to, yeah, like you said, the pain points. What is some of those things that are giving you some headaches on the operation? Is that you don’t know what your yield is going through the field, you know, there’s yield monitors out there. Is it, you want to have straighter rows? Well, we have guidance that can help with that. So it’s just kind of trying to build a relationship with that particular grower right off the bat.
Just kind of figure out, what are his likes, what his or her likes, dislikes, and then just kind of tailor, around their operation. Usually the thing I always started with, if they don’t have a monitor or a GPS receiver on the operation, that’s definitely one of the first products that I would recommend.
Obviously we’ve got a great lineup with our InCommand 1200 and InCommand 800 displays, and our GPS 7000, GPS 7500 Receivers.
Russ: I would tend to agree with that. At least I hope so. I need the paycheck for a few more years. Anyway, No. In all seriousness, we do have a really great product lineup.
And one comment that I do get quite a bit is, these displays are easier to use and easier to understand than a lot of the other displays out there. And when I reply back to something like that, a lot of times what I’ll say is, well, half the guys that write all the things and do all the testing that make these things go actually turn around and use them on their home farms.
And that be including you. And, and I know Matt’s in-laws are into farming, although I’ve heard a rumor that, you might have some family members that are a little resistant to technology. And, and that’s a actually a good lead in because if you’re talking to somebody that’s new and they might be resistant to technology.
I mean, you know, the early adopter guys, the bleeding edge guys, man, they’re right in whether if they just like the idea of it there. And now we’ve hit the top of that bell curve. I think where it’s normal to have precision ag. You know, if you’re talking to some of your family, Matt, about adopting some of this new stuff, knowing that they might be resistant to it, how do you come about that?
Matt: Well, I mean, I think there’s a couple different ways. I think the important thing when I talk to someone that might be a little resistant to it, is to concentrate on the technology that has the greatest return on investment. It’s really easy to have a conversation with somebody about how cool or how neat a technology is, but at the end of the day, some of these folks out there, if it doesn’t make ’em any money, then they don’t care if they have to do something that’s a little bit harder or takes a little bit longer if they don’t perceive a value in what a technology can bring them.
Some of the things I always talk about with folks like that is the idea of increasing their efficiencies so they can get more done in a day. I think one of the biggest things that happens anymore, at least in the last several years in Iowa where I’m at, is when the crop goes in the ground, it goes in the ground in a hurry.
And when we have to get planting done, and we have a limited slot window of when we need to get all that planting done. Having things like guidance and auto steer and clutches on the planter. Really increase your efficiency. And not only that, but the clutch on a plant is probably one of the best ,fastest paying off items that we can sell a customer because it saves them in one of the areas that has the biggest pain point, which is the cost of seed. And if you can do that and help them with that, I think that that’s a great way to get somebody, to get their foot in the door, tip their toe in the water and really get them excited about some technology and how it could positively impact their farm.
Russ: And it’s just one of the most simple pieces of technology we’ve ever offered. It’s, it’s on and it’s off. And. It’s, yeah, it’s, it’s incredible. It’s something that’s probably one of the products we’ve had that’s had the longest lifespan and we’ve sold sures stop clutches for, for a long time now.
A lot of other things have come and gone, but the Sures stop Clutch just keeps stopping and going. I don’t know.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think when you look at what Ag Leader’s done since you know, 2004 with the Insight Display. The Insight Display is something that we came out with and it was a big improvement over anything that was out there.
First color touchscreen display. When we talk in product management about what do we want to make sure that we’re providing for customers and growers across the world, it’s, it’s products that significantly improve their life.. And that doesn’t mean it has to be a new product to the world. We may be able to do something with a product that exists in other forms and just do it a lot better and make it work a lot better than what else is out there.
And that’s what I think the SureStop Clutch did. There was air clutches and other forms of clutches on the market when the SureStop Clutch came out, but none of them performed with the level of maintenance and quality of product that the SureStop Clutch did. And that’s why it’s still a popular product today.
Russ: Yeah, I can get on board with that. I definitely think that is true. So, all right, so there are a few different factors as we talk to guys that will affect their interest in adopting technology. For example, age, and really there are always asterisks to this.
I’ve had family members that are considerably younger than me that want nothing to do with technology. I have a grandfather that’s 96 that is all about technology. So it does depend a little bit on your mindset. However, that being said, the average age of a farmer is older than the average age of a lot of other occupations that are out there.
It’s just kind of the way that it is. And so you need to have something that’s easy to use. And again, I think a lot of that goes back to why we’re successful, that we’ve got an easy to use product. But, you know, Evan, now if you were talking to a grower who is maybe resistant, particularly due to his age and the fact that he’s a little afraid of technology, how would you try to put his mind at ease in purchasing a product that he’s a little apprehensive or even afraid that he’s not gonna be able to work with.
Evan: Sure. Yeah, I guess I would start with the story of even our own operation that my dad and uncle have. My dad and uncle are kind of getting up there with age, weren’t really, I’ll call it tech savvy, but gave us the leap of faith with me kind of being the supporter behind it all.
We were able to get some Ag Leader products on our own operation back in 2013. And, we started with the display started with a receiver and a guidance system. That was basically all we had but man, that really brought things to life, with that particular system. My dad and uncle, they both had off the farm jobs and including myself.
So they were kind of the nighttime weekend warrior type farmer and having that guidance system being able to plant later at night and then through the weekends ,it also gave us more time to spend with our families. That’s one of the stories that I would tell a grower is like, Hey, we’re a small operation, but we invested in this technology and it’s helped us maybe not necessarily a quicker ROI on the operation, but less operator fatigue and just being able to kind of enjoy farming even though we’re doing it at different hours of the day.
Russ: I can get on board with that. And I fully agree with Matt, this stuff does have to pay at the end of the day. That being said,
Russ: Two things can be true at once. And also something that I hear quite a bit and that has been brought up in the Ag Leader podcast before are some things you can’t necessarily put a numerical value on. And you mentioned it. Spending time with your family, being able to get in and be more efficient and get done quicker, or, you know, just to be able to spend more time with your family.
That’s not something that you can necessarily put a dollar value to, but it’s got a huge value. I mean, people are doing things to be home with their family all the time
Yeah. Yeah. To build upon that, Russ, I mean, that’s part of the reason why, this year we’re looking at investing in, the SureSpeed system on our own operation.
I’ve got two younger children that, are going to be getting involved in more things, sports activities, what have you. I want to be able to assist my dad and plant the crop, but I wanna be able to get it done more efficiently and still do a great job at it. I would like to get the family involved in the operation more so, but you know, just from a personal perspective, being able to get that done quicker so I can go, enjoy the kids basketball game or, the recital or whatever they’re going to go to is what I’m looking forward to, the most. But being able to also help produce a good crop.
Turning Drivers into Skilled Operators
Russ: Yeah. Good. Excellent. That’s, yeah. Couldn’t agree. Now, another thing that we, that has been with any owner operator, really any business, in the nation right now has been trying to find labor, in agriculture, sometimes you need semi-skilled labor as well.
And that has been a problem and we have come up with, with different solutions to help with that, such as CartACE, and some other things. Matt, when you guys are looking at designing and products and testing products, and I’m assuming you don’t write up on a board, labor shortage is one of the things we come up with, but if you were to be talking to some guys about, Hey, we can’t find good help, you know, why do I want to invest in Ag Leader products?
Again, CartACE is my best example of that. You know, ease of use for somebody that’s maybe not a full-time farm person. How would you guide somebody to try to find the correct Ag Leader product if his main concern is being able to find labor?
Matt: Well, Russ, I think, you’ve hinted on a few different things that are really important in that conversation.
And one, you talked about how we try to make our displays, in our interfaces that we have, easy to use and we do spend a lot of time with our user experience, and our target of being able to be one of the easiest to use displays out there. I think that’s important because we can have all the technology in the world and if the person sitting in a seat doesn’t understand how to use it, it makes it virtually impossible to get any benefit out of it.
With our displays, you can set them all up, and this setup is, relatively intuitive, but once it’s set up, you can put somebody in the seat and give them a few short instructions and they’ll be able to push a couple buttons on a display and turn on the autosteer or with CartACE. That’s a great example because there’s a lot of folks out there that have a hard time finding grain cart operators in the fall.
Matt: Or they have a grain cart operator that’s got some, years of experience under their belt, and they may not understand how to use a smartphone, but they sure as heck can follow a guidance line and push a button to engage a steering system.
And then all they have to do is concentrate on matching the speed of the tractor to the combine and making sure they don’t overflow the grain tank when they get the grain cart a little bit full. So technology like that really makes a big difference in, in how we think about, labor shortages and skilled labor versus unskilled labor.
And maybe getting some folks in the seat that might traditionally have had a hard time having a good day, in a grain cart seat, specifically with CartACE, that will allow them to be a lot more successful employee for any of our customers.
Russ: Yeah, and on top of that, we’ve even got remote support.
So if you are a newer user and you run into a roadblock, you can get ahold of your dealer and they can remote into your display with your permission and run you through any button presses that you might have. The owner of the display can log into help, one of the guys that’s working for him if he’s having problems.
Yep. And with DisplayCast, you can look on your iPad and see where each machine’s at and if anybody’s needing some help or if you’re the grain cart operator, you can see where the semi is at. If you’re the combine operator, you can see where the grain cart’s at.
We, I think, really do excel in having a user friendly experience.
Matt: Absolutely. I think it goes all the way back to our paradigm auto steer days when we launched that product with a cell modem in it, and then allowed, dealers and even tech support here in ames to help customers get those systems to operate how they wanted them to. And we had a lot of diagnostics tools with those products. And I mean, fun story, one of my most interesting memories in tech support when I worked in tech support was sitting at my kitchen table on a Saturday morning and, working with our distributor in Poland and helping him tune a auto steer system.
Sitting out, sitting there, drinking a cup of coffee while. He was struggling with it, getting it to steer properly, and I was able to help him, just sitting there having breakfast with my wife. So, I mean, those tools are crucial to, you know, the efficiency and the satisfaction of the customer.
The Polish Guy
Russ: Well, you were talking about storytelling again, I asked around for some fun questions to ask you guys today, and you mention helping out a Polish guy. Now I don’t know this whole story cuz I wasn’t given all the details, so I hope it’s family friendly, but, were you over in Spain with a Polish guy calibrating a steering system or something along those lines?
Basically what I got for the notes was asking about the polish guy driving one of the tractors we had borrowed up and down the field. While doing calibration. So what’s the story behind that?
Matt: Yeah, so we did a distributor training in Spain. This would’ve been sometime maybe 2010 or 2011.
And we had a, our Polish dealer was there and he was a great guy. Camille was his name. I can’t remember his last name, but he was a whole heck of a lot of fun, and in fact, as a thank you gift for helping with that steering system, when, when we got that all set up for him, and I was tuning that from the house.
He had actually brought me a little bottle of his dad’s homemade schnapps from Poland . So there’s a whole nother story involved with that. But, we won’t go into that today. But yeah, he, a little bit of a cowboy behind a wheel and we were actually on a Spanish government facility, if I remember correctly, where they had some government run farms.
They had allowed us graciously to use some buildings, to use their area for calibration and to then do some demonstration and some ride and drive type activities. And, if I remember correctly, I don’t, it was a little bit fuzzy, it was a while ago, but Camille was a little bit, he was a little bit cavalier behind the wheel and maybe, exceeded the speed limit a little during the calibration routine and had a pretty good time over there. So .
Russ: Excellent, excellent.
Where to Start
Evan, when you are talking to a guy who’s new to Precision Ag and he says, Hey, where should I start? You know, we’ve got a very robust product line, whether it be steering, SeedCommand, DirectCommand, water management, yield monitoring.
We’ve pretty well got all the bases covered. Where do you think for somebody that’s just starting out, where’s his best place to start at?
Evan: For starters, I mean, definitely getting him into one of our displays, either an InCommand 1200 or the 800. I always try to push the 1200 just because it’s the Cadillac. I mean, it is the best, one of the best monitors on the market.
Russ: What do you mean one of the best? Who are you working for?
Evan: Well it is the best. I’m sorry. It is the best, like you guys have touched on. I mean, the user interface is, is top notch. I mean, there’s just not a lot of questions.
I, myself, as a dealer, was able to walk through, with a customer on how to set one up over the phone. I wouldn’t even have to be there. Obviously we’ve got, a great, tech support team and having remote support, which I used quite frequently, especially when I had customers that were, you know, two plus hours away from my location just trying to service them. But yeah, definitely getting them into one of our displays. The possibilities become endless.
Russ: Yeah, I can definitely agree with that. And I also understand recommending the 1200 if you know, a lot of guys, one of the big push over the last few years has been updating that planter, you know, you don’t have to buy a new planter or a bigger planter, If you can make the planter, you’ve got more efficient.
But if you’re talking about doing planting stuff, that’s really kind of in the wheelhouse of the, of the 1200. So, Matt, same question to you. If somebody were to ask you where he should start in precision ag, what kind of questions would you ask him? In your opinion, if you’re gonna start from scratch, what would you go with first and why?
Matt: It would really be what is the biggest pain point you have on your farm that you think technology might be able to help? And that’s gonna lead into a conversation, probably around the idea of efficiency or speed or something like that. But, if it’s me, if I’m gonna give a peer recommendation to anybody, I’m gonna start with the planter.
Because if you don’t get it in the ground correctly, if you don’t ever give it the right start. it’ll never have the potential to have the yield. And it’s just so important these days to that short planting window that we have, everybody’s trying to go fast. And the idea of upgrading a planter to get the crop planted the absolute best that we can possibly do, and in the most efficient mannering that we can do is a really great place to start.
And you can start with an older planter. And at the end of the day, as long as there’s no physical damage on a toolbar, You know, you can upgrade a whole heck of a lot of stuff on a planter to make it run better. And you might start with clutches. You might start with an electric drive. You might even go all the way to SureSpeed right away.
Couple it up with a, you know, a 1200 monitor, receiver with a decent GPS signal, and hopefully a little bit of auto steer. And your entire experience planting the crop is gonna be improved and your crop is gonna have a much better start to a growing season with some technology like that.
Russ: Yeah. And the thing about being a company that does both aftermarket and factory type stuff is you don’t have to have new equipment to make this stuff work. You can upgrade what you’ve got or, take it in baby steps. You don’t have to do it all at once. So it’s really flexible that way.
So, I couldn’t, couldn’t agree more with. Now, of course, there are several questions I get asked. I’m fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in front of growers and folks that have lots of questions, whether it be a trade show, a conference, or some sort of a grower meeting. And of course there’s been a lot of word on autonomy in the industry.
The Future of Guidance and Steering
And Matt, I’ll start with you. You know, obviously we’ve made strides, towards that, so to speak, whether it be designing our own steering system, with SteerCommand Z2 and SteadySteer, CartACE, and the changes we’ve made to SmartPath and with the boundary guidance and that sort of thing.
So we’ve been going down that road, you know unless you want to give up some company secrets here today, if somebody comes up to you and says, Hey, what’s Ag leader doing in the way of autonomy? Let’s say you’re at a trade show or something. What would you tell ’em?
Matt: Well, I think obviously, as a company, we’re very forward looking, and it would be ignorant of myself to say that Ag Leader isn’t aware and isn’t engaged in the thought process on what does autonomy look like in farming over the next five and 10 and 15 years? We’re still in the process of really defining where does Ag Leader fit into that.
There’s lots of different ways that can go, but I think one thing is consistent in our thought process and I think we’ve pretty clearly communicated, in the past, but the way Ag Leader, sees autonomy around the idea that a farmer at the fundamental level still wants to be involved and engaged, in the process of farming and the idea of a farmer not sitting in the cab and a farmer not, being present in a field and it’s just a fleet of robots, is something that, that we don’t see is something that’s gonna be widely at least in the beginning of the autonomy process. Something that’s widely available or widely used. We’ve, had conversations and, had a lot of different thought processes around the idea of what we call semi-autonomy, where we can help automate parts of an operation but not automate the entire process.
Russ: Yeah. And even some of the more, again, bleeding edge farmers still like their cab time, you know, I don’t know how many, I think they’re John Deere t-shirts I’ve seen that show basically, you sitting, looking out the cab, your windows is, my office view is better than yours. So you know, you’ve got labor issues, fewer growers covering more acres, so the demand for doing that is greater. You’ve got all these things and yet there is always some traditionality to agriculture.
It a lot of times it’s a very family-centric thing. I remember, first season of the podcast talking with the folks from the New York Farm Girls channel and they mentioned, you know, it’s coming, but you know, they were a little suspicious of it because farmers like to be part of the operation and autonomy kind of removes that.
But, I don’t know what’s gonna be in the next five or 10 years, but, things progress. That’s the nature of our business.
Matt: Absolutely. I think that’s a great point. You know, things progress and thought processes change. But at the end of the day, I think the core part of our industry, the farmers that make decisions and the farmers that actually do the work. I think they want to be integrated and very in depth with the technology, but also be physically present in the cab. And that’s the direction, that at least at this point that we’re looking at it, that’s the lens that we’re looking through as we decide to how we’re gonna navigate that entire idea.
Russ: You know, Ag Leaders been in business since 1992 with the YM 2000, you know, and it’s come a long way.
Semi-autonomy, the InCommand. SureSpeed, SureForce. RightSpot. You know, we didn’t even really talk about RightSpot. And Evan, as far as in your wheelhouse of your product specialty. I know we’d had, some meetings, you, we were talking about things that are getting ready to come out, things that have come out in the last year.
What are the biggest things you think that we’ve improved upon or came out with? That counter in your circle of influence?
Evan: I mean, definitely having our own steering controller thats made in-house, by far is one of the, one of the bigger improvements that I’ve seen.
Obviously, having the, RightSpot system out there. Being able to do individual nozzle on a sprayer and even just some of the smaller features like, nozzle monitoring, just some of those little things.
And I think that’s where Ag Leader really, shines is kind of on those small little details that growers like to see. Yeah, it may not. You know, be a wow factor. But it’s just those little things, like I said, nozzle monitoring, being able to put in the nozzles that you have on the display and show, you know, maybe I’m over-applying, maybe I’m under applying.
Being able to see that pressure reading there, I think it’s huge. And I think Ag Leader does a really good job of hitting those small details.
Russ: Excellent. Yeah. Guess what I’m gonna ask you now? So same question your way and one of my notes right here is that he’s a closet perfectionist.
So talking to, you know, with Evan here about how all these little small details that we do really well. I also need to know, are we working on a pumpkin yield monitor? I know you have a great interest in pumpkins.
Matt: Yeah. We may, we may happen to grow a few of those is up on our small little acres that we live on.
But I believe the pumpkin yield monitor is still in the mechanical phase of development. Yeah.
Russ: But, you know, if you were to look back, say even just the past year or where has Ag Leader made the greatest improvements? Or, what’s been some of the stuff that we’ve come out with that you’re most proud of?
Matt: You know, something that really changed last year was we, in the engineering department, our mechanical department, we had introduced a new team of mechanical engineers to increase the pace at which we can develop kits and kits means, basically the interface between the technology and the idea of things like rightSpot and the SteerCommand Z2 and the SteadySteer and the actual machine. And cuz you know, it doesn’t matter how awesome of a product we have, if you can’t put it on the piece of equipment, or make it easy to put it on the piece of equipment, then it’s more difficult for our customers to adopt.
We launched this new kit team last year and we increased our development of kits across our product lines. Not just steering, but steering, the RightSpot system, everything involved with planting. , with the Surespeed system and all of that, increased our kit development pace to a level that now us as product managers are having a hard time keeping up with the requests, to feed into them because they become so efficient in pumping kits out.
And we don’t just do that around home this to continue, you know, we’re a worldwide company. Yeah. , and there’s a lot of machine that isn’t available in the United States or in North America, that we would like to interface to. And so as a part of that effort, you know, I’ve got a, about a 13 or 14, machine target list of steering kits that we’re sending part of that kit team over to Europe here, in the first quarter of the year. Oh, wow. And they’re gonna spend a few weeks over there and they’re gonna knock out a bunch of stuff so that our international distributors have their interface kits that they need to be able to sell our products.
Russ: That’s cool.
Matt: So that, I think that’s a big step that I’ve been involved with. That it’s been pretty rewarding to see all that work come to fruition.
Man. Well see. Now I learned something today. I did not know. .
Russ: That’s cool. All right. Well guys, we’ve, come to the end of the, of the podcast, but man, I had a lot of fun. I hope you guys did. So, I want to take a minute to say thank you to, the great pumpkin, Matt Pifkin and the great Dr. Watson, Evan, thank you guys very much for joining us here today, and, look forward to talking to you more down the road.
Matt: Absolutely. And yeah, if anybody up in the Waterloo area is looking for a pumpkin next fall, just, hit us up on Facebook.
Russ: That’s, that’s competitive advertising, man.
Evan: Little, little, little plug there, Matt.
Matt: Plug. No black dog acres action going on.
Russ: Uh, excellent. All right. Goodbye guys. Thank you very much.
Evan: Thanks guys.