BouMatic has many long-servicing dealers to be thankful for. One is Lang's Dairy Equipment in Decorah, Iowa.
It is a time to be thankful for all that we have, and at BouMatic, we are most thankful for our friends, the people who have chosen to be supporters and advocates for BouMatic products over the years.
This year, we would like to highlight Lang’s Dairy Equipment, a dealership in Decorah, Iowa, that has been around for 72 years, spending the last 61 of those selling BouMatic equipment.
Over more than 70 years, dairy operations grew, Lang’s adapted
Lang’s Dairy started in 1949, mainly dealing in refrigeration, with can coolers and later bulk tanks said General Manager Rob Engelhardt, who has been with the dealership for 31 years. As the industry evolved, they had to change the way they worked and the products they sold.
When he started, they were dealing mainly with 50- or 60-cow operations in stall barns. But the ‘90s were a period of rapid growth.
“In the early ‘90s, that's when parlors really took oﬀ, and we built well over a hundred parlors,” Engelhardt said. “We never had more than a week or two without a parlor project to work on.”
Since that time, growth in the size of operations has been a deﬁning quality for the industry.
“The biggest change has been just the way people are milking cows,” he said. “From stanchion barns trying to cut down on being so labor intensive, transitioning to parlors and then parlors themselves growing in size as the number of milk cows have increased.”
Larger operations also meant fewer operations. As the dairies became fewer and farther between, Lang’s area grew along with them.
“We take care of the same number of cows in our area with the same number of employees, just the work has changed,” Engelhardt said.
With changes in dairy sizes came changes in technology. Engelhardt said he appreciates BouMatic’s approach to moving the modern dairy forward in today’s environment. They have struck an important balance by using technology to accomplish more, but in a way that makes sense for producers.
“Whether it's in automatic takeoﬀs or the parlor stall, they've increased their research into technology, but also kept things fairly simple,” Engelhardt said. “All the technology in the world won't do any good if you can't understand it or can't ﬁx it.”
“For many years I was our main parlor installer and our main service guy,” he said. “So I always look at things from a service standpoint: ‘How do we install it eﬃciently? How do we ﬁx it eﬃciently?’ The simplicity of some of the products has really helped us out.”
The same business principles that have helped Lang’s succeed over the years with their customers are true of their relationship with BouMatic.
“Whether it’s the dairyman and the dealer, or the dealer and the manufacturer, you have to work together, and they've had some really good people over the years that have helped us achieve our goals,” he said.
Engelhardt says technology is pointing to a future that builds on the improvements of today. That means equipment that allows producers to milk even more cows with fewer employees.
“It doesn't matter what industry you're in, ﬁnding quality employees is getting more and more diﬃcult,” he said. “So the dairy farmer is going to have to ﬁgure out a way of being proﬁtable with fewer employees, whether it's robotics, rotary parlors, whatever.”
That is a scenario where dealerships become even more important to producers, teaching them how to use and troubleshoot their technology and being there to service it when necessary.
Service is central to Lang’s philosophy
Service, it turns out, is a specialty of Lang’s Dairy Equipment. Engelhardt said they have always prided themselves on 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year service. That has been the key to their success.
“I tell dairymen all the time, ‘We are in this together, you know. If you aren't doing well, we don't do well,’” he said. “We’ve gotta be your partner.”
The same holds true for every relationship, every link in the chain for the dairy industry.
“It doesn't matter what business you're in,” Engelhardt said. “If you take care of your customer, hopefully, they'll return the favor.”