(The following article is part of a paid placement promotion in Farm and Dairy’s annual Progress edition.)
BELOIT, Ohio — Expanding, growing and looking for new markets, “nothing is off the table,” said Gary Irwin, who owns K&S Millwrights Inc., with his wife, Stacy.
Last year when an opportunity arose for K&S to purchase a competitor, Hamilton Agri-Sales in Johnstown, Ohio, they jumped, making big changes for the company and their family.
Stacy left her nursing job to work at K&S doing the books and human resources. The move gave Gary more time to connect with his field crews and customers.
“We want to maintain the high quality workmanship and relationships we are known for,” Gary said. They grew from 18 to 24 employees after acquiring the new K&S Millwrights South location and are currently hiring.
The company was founded 35 years ago by Kurt Klingelhofer. Gary Irwin as hired in 1995, and he and Klingelhofer worked as a team for several years.
Gary came into the office in 2009 to learn the ropes of managing the company. Meanwhile, Klingelhofer continued to lead the crews. In 2013, Gary and Stacy purchased the company and the property where it is located in western Columbiana County, on 1422 Knox School Road, Beloit.
K&S Millwrights specializes in commercial and on-farm grain drying and storage facilities, including feed mills, soybean meal processing and dog food manufacturing.
Both locations offer Sukup, Sweet, Leeson and Hutchinson products.
“Typically at the North location, we do a lot of commercial work, and for the South, more farm work,” Stacy said.
But, K&S is ready to expand their service area and take on new commercial and farm work.
“Word of mouth is huge in this industry,” Gary said about how they market their services.
With the expansion, they now have better buying power and can pass it on to their customers, he added.
They’ve had a good year, as more farmers are understanding the value in being able to store their own grain and putting up more grain bins, he said.
“We’ve been there on the commercial side, but on the farm side, change is coming fast,” he said about technology in the industry.
There are grain dryers that talk to smartphones, he said. The younger farmers have come to expect being able to monitor and operate things right in their hand.
Internally, they keep up with technology as well. Their employees use an app to record their hours, clocking in and out, and noting what customer they are working for, all on their smartphones. Stacy then downloads the information to Quickbooks. They’ve been using this technology for two years and it has saved time, she said.
The Irwins pride themselves on long-term employees. Of the 18 employees at the North location, 15 of them have been with the company for five years or more years.
The biggest challenge in the next 10 years is going to be finding a workforce, Gary said it’s a challenge to find people who want to work.
Supporting youth. Their passion over the summer is supporting 4-H and FFA members at local fairs, which can also serve as a recruitment tool.
They look forward to expanding the fairs they attend to those around Johnstown, the new South location.
“It is a joy of ours — it is the future of agriculture,” Stacy said.
Their desire to support youth interested in agriculture has led them to partnerships with OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute.
They donated a grain bin to ATI in 2014. The 33-foot bin holds 17,000 bushels of corn, saving the university money as they were shipping wet corn and paying for drying and storage at area elevators.
The Irwins also farm, raising hogs, cattle and grain. They have two sons, Curtis and Ryan, both in high school.
Find out more about their products and services at www.ksmillwright.com or by phone: North, 330-823-8811; South, 740-967-8700.
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