4 things your custom harvester wished you knew about them
Josh Parker has owned and operated Parker Forage LLC for 10 years. His primary residence is in Minnesota, but, during the summer, his entire family and team spend two months in Colorado custom chopping alfalfa before working their way back home, custom chopping corn silage in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota.
With his experience, Parker shared four things custom harvesters wished you knew about them.
1. It all comes down to communication.
Parker knows having a plan is important for his harvest team to execute at a high-functioning level. A key part of creating this plan is effective communication with the customers. As corn silage harvest quickly approaches, he said he is calling up his customers now to put together a plan for when they get there.
Every person has their own preferences when it comes to putting up high-quality forages, and Parker wants to make sure he gets everything right for his customers. Parker said he tries to ask as many questions as possible to make sure he is meeting his customers’ needs. This includes asking how they want their forage processed (length for alfalfa and kernel processing score for corn silage), if they want to inoculate or not, what kind of inoculant they would like to use, etc.
One thing he wishes more customers would provide is field maps. Parker said having a map ensures the drivers know where to go and the right fields get chopped every time.
2. Patience is appreciated when it comes to delays, especially this year.
Delays are frustrating no matter who you are, and, sometimes, Parker said his crew can be delayed a day or two and customers don’t understand why.
Each year, Parker said he schedules his team’s days as tightly as possible to get the most done with the time they have, often working 16- to 18-hour days. Unfortunately, things break. He said his crew can be up and running in a short period of time, but this still puts them behind schedule.
This year, with the way the weather has “cooperated” so far, they are covering a lot of miles trying to get back to fields and finish alfalfa harvests. Corn silage harvest will also be difficult with such variability in plant growth between states, let alone neighboring fields.
Custom harvesters are in this business to make high-quality feed for the customer, and Parker said they will do everything they can to keep moving as soon and as safely as possible.
3. The entire crew cares about the feed they put up.
One thing Parker really wants customers to know is he and his entire team care about the feed they put up.
“The client provides us our living,” Parker said. “If we don’t put up feed correctly, we won’t be back.”
Going back to patience, Parker said they are in this business to make high-quality feed for the customer. They schedule things tightly so they can do the most with their time for the customer.
On a rare occasion, Parker said his team will have a delay that prevents them from making it to a job. Luckily, he said he has good relations with many other custom choppers. If this situation arises, he said he will find another custom chopper to get the job done and to the customer’s specifications.
4. References are important to have for both parties.
It’s quite common when you are applying for a new job to provide references for your potential employer to ask about your previous performance. Parker said that is fine, but he will also ask for references if a new customer calls him and then he will call and talk with those references to get the full story.
This allows him to verify if this is someone he wants to do business with and will pay him in the end. He said this is their livelihood, and, if someone isn’t going to pay, he won’t do it.
In addition, he said if the customer is looking to cut rates, they will find somebody to do it, “but it won’t be quality work.”