Superior Customer Service Sealed The T-L Deal
The customer service really won me over.
Irrigation is life in Colfax County. The vast plains stretching out from the base of the Sangre De Cristo mountains — the southern-most tip of the Rockies — in northern New Mexico get little to no rain. There’s no such thing as a dryland crop unless a person counts the prickly spires of cholla cactus dotting rangeland. Already an arid environment, a drought has held the area in its punishing grip for the last 14 years, making what water area farmers can get from mountain runoff for irrigation all the more precious.
BJ Hoy crops 412 acres of leased and owned ground near Maxwell, New Mexico, and T-L pivots provide nearly every drop of water his soils see. But that might not have been the case if Hoy hadn’t been blown away by the customer service he received from T-L.
Hoy had 18 years of experience with T-Ls on leased ground, but when it came time to purchase his own pivot, he wanted to do his due diligence and shop around. He called all the pivot companies and didn’t get much, or in most cases any, response. “One just sent me an e-mail quoting out their most expensive option, which didn’t suit my needs at all,” Hoy says. “I called T-L headquarters and they had someone call me back in a hurry. I couldn’t even get anyone on the phone with the other guys. You would think when you’re going to make a purchase that big, they would want to talk to you.” Shortly after, Hoy was linked up with Kurt Haschke, the owner of Ponderosa Irrigation in Dalhart, Texas. Haschke made the 2.5-hour drive to his farm to look at Hoy’s landscape, talk about his needs, and present the different options available to him with a T-L pivot. It was the first of many drives Haschke would make before, during, and after the sale.
“Kurt was very straightforward with the deal. He showed me the low end, the high end, what the differences were, and put it all down on paper. It helped me make the purchase that was right for me. It may not have been the cheapest option on the market, but there’s a big chain of support and everyone has answered the phone for me from the top down. The customer service really won me over,” Hoy says.
True to what T-L and Haschke showed him during the purchase, they’ve continued to supply support after the deal. Hoy lauds Haschke as a great resource due to his knowledge of the machines. He can call Haschke from 200 miles away and he can talk Hoy through most repairs. And if a part is needed, he’s there to help, too.
“We live in the middle of nowhere. My neighbor’s electric pivot broke down and it was 4 days before he could get it fixed. When I needed a part, Kurt got it for me quick and even drove the 200 miles to deliver it to me himself. That’s truly great service,” Hoy says.
But Hoy finds he doesn’t spend much time on repairs with his T-L pivots, not even the leased T-L that’s been running steady since the 90s. He credits this to the constant movement provided by the planetary drives and the time he spends doing maintenance on his pivots over winter. During the off season he goes through each pivot tightening lines, checking gear boxes, greasing everything, cleaning nozzles and changing filters.
“By doing a little easy maintenance in the winter, I find I don’t break down much more than maybe once per year during the growing season, and that’s usually just a hydraulic seal or something easy,” Hoy says. He notes, however, before he came along his leased T-L pivots didn’t see much maintenance and he could still turn them on every year and they would run just fine.
Hoy runs four T-L pivots, two full circles and two wipers. There are two 1/4-mile pivots, a 1,200-foot pivot, and a 640-foot pivot. They range from 22 years old to less than a year. For his T-L purchase, he opted for planetary gears, a double reverse system, brakes on every tower, bigger tires, and drops to get water closer to the ground.
“We can get 90 mph wind gusts in the spring. With the planetary drives, we can still move the machine even in those conditions or have the brakes keep it in place,” he says. The double reverse system is also a nice option for spring. The soils can be very dry and apt to blow, so directly after planting he can use the double reverse to make a quick pass over the field to settle the dust and ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Then, when the pivot hits the end of its pass it can be programmed to automatically reverse and apply a higher rate of water in a slower pass. “I can water day and night without constantly running out to the field.”
Hoy runs 150 head of commercial cattle. He raises alfalfa for hay, oats for grain, and wheat for grazing. Oats is seeded first in the spring. After harvest, Hoy no-till drills wheat into the oats stubble. Thirty days later he turns his cattle out to graze the wheat. He depends on those acres to produce winter forage for his livestock and pivot irrigation has helped him grow even more.
“Our irrigation water comes from mountain watershed captured in a lake. We only get so many allotments of water and we’re not guaranteed the full amount when it’s dry,” he says. “With pivots we’re able to make better use of our water than flood or side roll irrigation, which means I can crop a lot more acres with the water I do get.”
Cash is also a limited resource, but Hoy is certain he’ll come out ahead despite paying more up front for a T-L unit with some upgrades than he may have for an electric pivot.
“I have neighbors with electric pivots that are 10 years old that are rusting out and they’re already looking to replace. On my leased land there’s a T-L pivot that’s 18 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. I expect to get at least 20 years out of my investment and spend less money on repairs, too. You get what you pay for,” he says. But maybe the best return on investment came in the form of a bet won in part due to the simplicity of a T-L pivot as compared to an electric pivot and the customer service that comes as part of the T-L package.
Hoy and a neighbor were getting new pivots at the same time and made a friendly wager about whose would be up and running first. Hoy’s was a T-L. His neighbor’s pivot was not.
“He had a week head start, but once they started work on mine it was up and running in just four days. His wasn’t running for another two weeks. All I earned was gloating rights, but that’s worth every penny,” Hoy laughs.