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GT Mfg. nominated Kansas Exporter of the Year for fourth year in a row

For the fourth year in a row, GT Mfg., Inc., has been nominated as a Kansas Exporter of the Year finalist. Last year, GT came in second, missing the award by one vote, and chances are very good the grain dryer manufacturer will bring home the award offered through the Governor’s Office

Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:54 pm

By Ryan D. Wilson, News Editor | 0 comments

For the fourth year in a row, GT Mfg., Inc., has been nominated as a Kansas Exporter of the Year finalist.

Last year, GT came in second, missing the award by one vote, and chances are very good the grain dryer manufacturer will bring home the award offered through the Governor’s Office. In 2014 the Small Business Association named GT as Kansas Exporter of the Year, and that honor is almost as prestigious as the governor’s award with the same name.

“Based on what the award is for, I think we have a very good chance,” GT president Dennis Pedersen said. “If nothing else, it shows our consistency.”

Lately GT has received a lot of recognition for its grain dryers, and has been featured on the Discovery Channel’s ‘How It’s Made’ program and more recently, ‘World’s Greatest!’

The producers of ‘World’s Greatest!’ approached GT because in doing research on agricultural products in the global market, GT’s name kept coming up, Pedersen said. They asked farmers around the world what they needed most. Farmers overseas often said grain dryers, because they can lose 40 to 90 percent of their grain crop to spoilage -- something grain dryers can prevent.

The portable batch grain driers made by GT are uniquely suited to meet that need, especial;y overseas in countries whose agricultural programs aren’t well established. Driers made by GT come in a variety of sizes, 150 to 820 bushels, and they can be powered by diesel, natural gas or propane. They can be delivered and assembled almost anywhere, including very remote areas.

Pedersen said one of his favorite stories involved a drier sold in Laos that had to be delivered by water buffalo, because there were no roads or any other way to get to where they were going.

To be recognized as the best in the state is not just an honor for the company, but also for the employees, Pedersen said.

“We’re really proud of the fact that we help feed the world,” Pedersen said.

GT sells its grain driers through dealers and associates in 81 countries on six continents. Eighty to 85 percent of business comes from overseas sales, with the Philippines, Poland, the United Kingdom and Canada among the countries where it sells the most driers.

The World Fact Book website has helped GT identify overseas markets for their driers. The company prefers to deal with local dealers of agricultural machinery and products, as they know the market, the language and the local trends, Pedersen said. If they can’t find a dealer on their own, they enlist the help the U.S. Embassy and dealers in neighboring countries.

A dealer in Poland, for example was able to sell driers in Hungary by setting up a kiosk at a farm show in that country. Their dealers have a lot of say in how GT advertises and which driers they sell, because “we’re there to help them,” Pedersen said.

They’ve also picked up new customers who’ve bought used driers made by GT 20 or more years ago, and liked what they saw, Pedersen said.

And they continue to work on developing markets on the countries they aren’t in, including remote areas of Africa.

“Believe me, I’m working on it,” Pedersen said.

The Internet and smart phones have also aided the company in reaching customers overseas. For example, GT posts its manuals online so customers can access them right away and not have to wait weeks for it be delivered or pay extra costs obtaining the manuals that way. They also have an app that helps customers trouble shoot problems in assembling the driers..

They also offer customer service through the Internet, and learned to be available when their customers need them to be. Pederson said he’s often been at the office late in the evening to help a customer get through an issue.

“We’re very service orientated, we always have been,” he said.

The company has brought dealers and customers from overseas to Clay Center too, because sometimes that’s the best way to train them or introduce them to a new product.

Having a good operations manager on the floor, Gary Willmann, helps too. A normal build takes 4 to 6 weeks, and GT aims to have enough inventory on had so that they can react to orders with 1 to 2 weeks.

“I rely on Gary immensely,” Pederson said.

Pederson said the owners of the company have helped them tremendously by being behind everything they’ve done 100 percent to move forward.

“They saw what we could be and saw room to grow,” he said.

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