Nate Russo, Chief Operating Officer at Deerfield Ag Services, along with the rest of the leadership team at Deerfield, knew it was time to expand.
In an effort to better serve their customers, the company was looking to build a facility that would be innovative, efficient, and feature direct rail access. To check all boxes would certainly be an arduous undertaking, but some fortunate circumstances helped set the foundation for the project.
That fortune came in the form of 400 acres suddenly made available within an industrial park in Massillon, Ohio. The site, formerly occupied by Republic Steel, was notable for its rail connections to both Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation railroads. After scouting the location and ensuring that it would meet all the necessary criteria, Deerfield wasted no time in securing the site.
“It was everything we were looking for,” Nate says.
As COO, it was Nate’s duty to oversee the project, working for months with teams of builders, electrical contractors, and more, even as the engineering and the majority of the millwright work were handled in-house at Deerfield. As the long days went on and progress continued, however, he and his team knew that what they were building would be a monument to the spirit of innovation that Deerfield Ag Services’ founder, Boyd Wallbrown Jr. had placed as one of the core values of the company.
Opening in mid-October as the mad rush of harvest season overtook the lives of the area’s farmers, the facility is the westernmost of Deerfield’s facilities, allowing the company to bring its expertise and grain-handling capabilities to new customers. The massive grain bins can be seen from the nearby highway, standing tall above the surrounding landscape.
The site, as it stands, is truly impressive to behold, and its statistics even more so. The location boasts a storage capacity of 530,000 bushels (which Nate was quick to note, with the space available, can potentially be increased to 4 million) split up amongst two Brock flat bottom tanks standing 104 feet tall and two Brock hopper (one for grain ready to be shipped, the other for wet grain) tanks, each 84 feet tall. Each of the flat-bottom tanks are outfitted with GSI X-Series zero-entry sweep augers, outside stiffeners, and BinMaster laser-type level monitors.
Trucks, upon arriving at the facility, are routed to a Gamet Apollo truck probe, where a sample of the grain is taken and sent to a dickey-JOHN GAC2500 moisture measure for testing. After weighing, trucks dump grain into a 1,000 bushel mechanical pit before arriving at a second scale for tare weight, and to receive a scale ticket, printed automatically.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this whole operation, and one most likely to be appreciated by busy farmers who want to get in and get out as quickly as possible, is that it’s fully automated.
“That’s the biggest thing, and the biggest draw to this facility,” notes Location Manager Adam Moodt on its automation.
“Everything is for the farmer’s convenience, so they can be in and out within an average of eight minutes, from when they clock in to when they leave. It’s all automatic, there’s no guessing with anything. It’s all in the system, and on your ticket. We can control everything from a computer screen in the control room, instead of having to go out and manually turn everything on,” he explains.
This streamlined process increases efficiency and reduces wait time for farmers, meaning less time spent waiting, and therefore more work done during the valuable daylight hours of harvest season. It is this kind of efficiency that has allowed the site’s railway capabilities to flourish.
“We just loaded up our first 85-car bean train with about 300,000 bushels,” Adam says.
Railway access affords Deerfield the ability to get ship grain out quickly and effectively. This unique capability also gives it a much larger range of distribution, as a significant portion of the grain dropped off at the Massillon facility will be destined for international markets.
“So far it’s just been commercial soybeans, but we plan to load other commodities as well, including specialty items like soymeal and distillers grains. Mostly they’re for export, but some will go to the Southeastern United States. We are also receiving corn now and will be loading out corn via rail in the near future,” Nate explains.
“The opening of the Massillon facility has allowed us access to new markets allowing for competitive bids back to the producer,” adds Jen Pemberton, Grain Merchandiser at Deerfield.
Nate, Adam, and everyone at Deerfield Ag Services involved with the construction and operation of the Massillon facility have been pleased with the project thus far, and remain excited about what the future holds. Not just for the company, but for their customers who will begin to enjoy the benefits in productivity and profit that come with technological innovation.
Bill Wallbrown, President of Deerfield, emphasizes the significance of the project.
“Agriculture is a global business,” he says. “This facility gives our customers access to that global market. As the global demand for food grows, this facility puts our farmers in a position to supply that need.”
As a customer-first business, the folks at Deerfield couldn’t ask for much more.