Fifty years is a long time to be doing anything, but to be successful in the farm equipment business for half a century is quite an accomplishment. Bane Equipment started with one location in Crawfordsville in 1967. In 2013, they merged with North Central Agri-Power to become Bane-Welker with 10 locations across Indiana and 3 in Ohio. Phil Bane says a lot has changed in the past 50 years, especially the equipment, “Technology is the biggest change, from the 8 speed transmissions of the older models to the complex computer controlled transmissions of today.” He said you have to have a computer before you can even begin to work on the equipment today.
The tractor is the horsepower that keeping farming operations running, and, as farms have gotten larger and more sophisticated the horsepower has gone up. According to Joe Miller, with Case IH, “In 1967, the biggest tractor Case was making was the 1200 Traction King, it was a 140 HP. Today, our smallest 4wd tractor is 420HP and goes up to 620HP.”
Bane told HAT one thing that has not changed is the dealer’s relationship with the farmer. But how dealers and farmers interact has changed, “It used to be that the farmer would send his wife to town to get a part, and the dealer knew just what he needed.” Today, a dealer can log into the equipment with a computer and diagnose the problem while the equipment is still on the farm.
Bayne says that, in the future, innovation will continue to drive the industry and that much of that innovation will come in the form of more advanced implements, “Planters, for example, have become very complex and expensive, costing as much as $400,000.” When Bane Equipment started, a farmer could buy a 6 row planter for about $10,000. Miller said Case is continuing to advance technology most recently with the self-driving tractor. He said farmers today need to think of their equipment as a package, so you have a tractor and combine that will work with the technology a farmer is using.
Bane said, while current farm income is not good, he has seen ups and down in agriculture before. Miller added that dealers like Bane-Welker are committed to working with their customers to help improve their productivity and make the most of every acre.
Bane-Welker is looking forward to another 50 years by investing in the future of agriculture. As part of their 50 year celebration, they matched donations to the Indiana 4-H Foundation, generating more than $10,000.