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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of monthly stories dedicated to Farmers Union Industries and its seven businesses.

By Chris Aarhus, NDFU

Time and time again, customers of Artex manure spreaders start their conversations with plant manager Chett Bisel the same way.

“It’s about how well they are built in comparison to other brands out there,” he said. “The feedback on our quality is accurate.”

Artex is one of the seven businesses of Farmers Union Industries, which is partially owned by North Dakota Farmers Union.

Bisel said the strength of the company is derived from the passion put into every spreader.

“We’re passionate about every box we build — our welders hand-weld every box to ensure we’re doing the best job we can,” Bisel said.

It’s not just manure, either. Bisel said Artex spreaders are used for poultry litter, beet lime and “other things of that nature.” End users can get spreaders in a variety of sizes from 200 cubic feet all the way up to 1,200, from a single axel with no brakes to a triple axel with brakes and steering.

“We’re able to provide the end user with a spreader that’s suitable for them and meets their requirements,” Bisel said. “Every farm is different. You might want one long and narrow and the next one might need to be short and stubby. We can do that. These are really built to accommodate the end user.”

Artex will even customize color for customers. Spreaders have been sold in red, green, blue, black, gray and white, and there is no up-charge.

“The most popular is gray, but our blue has gained a lot of traction,” Bisel said.

Artex spreaders continue to become a popular choice for North Dakotans, especially for sugar-beet producers in the Red River Valley. Beet lime helps prevent root disease in sugar beets.

“We’ve got more coming out that way,” Bisel said. “Companies are telling their cus-tomers that if they’re going to be spreading lime, they need an Artex.”

Bisel credited Artex’s extensive dealer network for a big part of its success.

“That’s the key to success for a company that does business like us,” he said. “We rely on our dealer network to promote our product, and our network does a great job. We are very respectful and appreciative not only of our dealers, but also our end users. We’re passionate about what we build and providing them with a good product. I think that all leads to growth.”

Manure spreaders are simple enough, mechanically, in how they work, so it may seem like technological advances would be few and far between. However, Bisel said that isn’t necessarily so.

“There are little tweaks we can do that separate us from the rest of the group,” he said. “We’re always trying to stay ahead from a design and technology perspective.”

Last year, Artex started working with Raven Industries, a precision agriculture company, to equip spreaders with a variable rate application system.

“It’s some of the best technology for spreading out there,” Bisel said. “We’ve seen a real increase in our scale system sales with our partnership with Raven. It’s far exceed-ed our expectations.”

Bisel said precision agriculture is just another example of Artex listening to its customers and meeting their expectations.

“Every customer we have makes an investment in Artex,” he said. “We do not want to let them down. We want to make them feel like their investment was the right one. If I were the customer making that investment, I would want to buy the best product for the money that I could. I go into work every day with the mindset that the people investing in our product are getting what they deserve.”

To learn more, visit artexmfg.com. To learn more about Farmers Union Industries and its commitment to family farms, visit fuillc.com.

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU