Honey (L) and Chris Loehmer.
Navigating through 20 years of non-stop growth has not been as easy for Chris and Honey Loehmer as you might expect — based on their success. Loehmer Ag Products, based in Monterey, Ind., has survived the ups and downs of the economy for two decades, but at the end of each year, the results have always been better than the previous year.
“Certain avenues of income have dried up in different years,” Chris said. “Whenever that occurred, we would look for other ways to build our business. As a result, the type of jobs we did changed back and forth over the years. It all seemed to work out okay.”
Timely equipment purchases allowed the Loehmers to handle work in the new areas their business took them.
“I usually buy a machine when I see an immediate need for it,” Chris said. “If some new type of project came along, I looked for the best equipment to handle it, knowing that if I purchased wisely I would find other uses for the machine, and perhaps open up additional markets.”
That business strategy led them to Ronson Equipment, a Doosan heavy equipment dealer with stores in Lowell and Westville, Ind. They purchased two machines in 2008, including a DX300LC super-long-reach excavator that they needed for a large ditch-cleaning project.
“Since that initial job, we have had very good luck with all our Doosan products,” Chris said. “We have always been impressed with the eagerness in which the company wants to find out what users like and dislike about their equipment. They are very willing to listen to customers. We have made suggestions to Doosan and over the years have seen some of those changes incorporated into new products. It's nice to have a company that size caring about the usability of the equipment.”
Start in Dairy Farm Construction
When the Loehmers started their business 20 years ago, they focused on land clearing, site preparation and excavation for agriculture producers, especially dairy farmers in northeast Indiana. Then they added services including custom manure application and selling sand for bedding in dairy barns.
“Many of those farms started out small, and now some of them are up to 2,000 to 3,000 cows,” Chris said. “We provided a lot of dirt work for them as they added facilities, including grading, backfilling, installing underground utilities and pipes for irrigation. Our company grew right along with our customers.”
That growth, however, was interrupted from time to time by low milk prices and other financial downturns in agriculture.
“Whenever I could see one type of work slowing down, I would look at other opportunities,” Chris said. “I am not afraid to knock on doors looking for business, and when I find it, I have a bad habit of not turning down work.”
Their current lineup of Doosan excavators provides the flexibility to handle a variety of jobs. For example, the DX420LC-5, their newest excavator, was purchased for some large dirt-moving projects for a client building an entire new 3,000-cow dairy farm.
The company purchased the DX420LC-5 with a longer arm for approximately 40 ft. (12 m) of reach to help move dirt more efficiently, according to Loehmer. “That will help generate a little more profit on each job,” he said.
“Once the dirt projects are completed, we expect this large excavator to be very valuable for cleaning rivers. The DX420LC-5 should allow us to go after work that others may not have the capability of doing.”
Working in rivers and ditches is just one area that the Loehmers moved into when the agricultural economy struggled. Other work includes:
• Cleaning ditches for several county governments
• Harvesting peat moss on their own 1,000-acre farm and selling the material to a bagging plant
• Demolishing structures
• Removing trees
• Operating a trucking division with 25 trucks to haul sand and gravel, peat moss, grain for local elevators and scrap metal for recyclers
“With the Doosan excavators and wheel loaders, we believe we have the right equipment to handle a variety of jobs,” Chris said. “I use the larger excavators mostly for digging and dredging; the smaller ones for trenching, demolition and tree removal; and the wheel loaders for loading materials, including manure spreaders. They all do an excellent job of getting the work done.
“We like the Doosan machines because there is little or no downtime,” he said. “They start every day and use the least amount of fuel compared to similar equipment. Most often they generate at least 100 billable hours a month and, at my company, that means they easily pay for themselves and make a profit.”
As the Loehmers look to the future, they are committed to exploring new opportunities where their 30 employees and lineup of productive equipment can continue to help the company grow.
“If you specialize too much in this area these days, you are going to have some serious slowdown time,” Chris said. “The way we work — looking at different types of projects — will usually keep us busy.”
Visit www.DoosanEquipment.com to learn more about Doosan excavators and wheel loaders.