Reinke Manufacturing is the world’s largest privately-held manufacturer of center pivot and lateral move irrigation systems. According to Dirk Monk, the International Technical Sales Manager, turning the Sahara Desert green is Reinke’s specialty. With all jokes aside, he pulls out before and after pictures of a potato farm in Egypt that was the desert you’d imagine, and then after the irrigation system was installed, the land was green, lush, and full of potato plants.
The company, since its inception, has had a knack for innovation, with the first reversible electric drive center pivot system and on to other sophisticated technology integrations. “We were the first company to have a mechanized irrigation system with fully functional GPS. The GPS principles have not needed modification in 15 years. That tells you just how accurate they were from the get-go,” explains Monk. Now, with even more technology integrations, farmers can turn on irrigation systems from miles away, bringing about shifts in the way we farm. “The older generations still want to be out on the farm, touch the crops, feel the soil and kick the dirt. Newer operations are run more like commercial farms, where people are hired for their specialties, agronomists, or farm managers to take care of their area of expertise.” With connectivity to apps that measure and track weather, temperature, and soil moisture, soil probes will show a farmer exactly where and how much water is needed. With the right system in place, all the technology can make irrigation foolproof. Monk assists globally with system design and product placement with their international dealers, making sure Reinke’s products are well represented and fit the customer’s needs.
It is not a secret that much of the world is going through climate changes. Many parts of the world that only used irrigation as a supplement to rainfall now need consistent watering for their crops on a more frequent basis. This has been an opportunity for Reinke to show how the right irrigation system can make all the difference in crop yields. “Getting a system is one thing, but knowing how to use it is another,” Monk says, explaining that his role is to ensure the customer comes first, as a key to their success.
Being a family-owned business, they have many advantages over larger irrigation companies; Reinke has the ability to react and pivot quickly, which has been essential. The company is big enough to have a global footprint, stay competitive, and have the value-added technology and innovation to get buyers excited. “By being family-owned, when we have a great opportunity, I don’t have to spend time calling board meetings, making long presentations to convince a group of a good opportunity. I just send a text message and get the okay that day,” explains Monk.
Just five years ago, Reinke’s international department was five people traveling all over the world visiting every tradeshow to showcase products. Now, Reinke has fifty-plus employees and warehouses in Argentina, South Africa, Romania, Bejing, and Australia. Developing business internationally is always a challenge, but there have been a few more obstacles to overcome with the pandemic. Face-to-face dealings are always preferred, so the pandemic has been a challenge in building new relationships.
Reinke was a recent participant of the Virtual Agriculture Machinery Mission facilitated by the NDTO, where companies were able to select target markets, and buyers were identified for potential sales. “This mission was incredibly useful, and the NDTO connected us with promising business partners to start building relationships. The virtual introductions are a good way to start these conversations, but we still need to follow up with face-to-face interactions,” says Monk. Some cultures are more comfortable with virtual business deals, where others are more comfortable with in-person interactions.
Looking ahead, Reinke is facilitating opportunities for dealerships to engage globally, with strategic funding procedures to assist with sales through ExIm bank and how to mitigate the risk of working with global payments. “Financing is going to be a big player in our markets,” explains Monk, “historically, irrigation projects have not been done with large financing. But now that is changing.” Tools like ExIm bank and other programs can be a game-changer for dealers and customers. With these tools, there are more payment processing assurances, which can increase trust and decrease the risk for both sides.
Reinke continues to show their dedication to customers as Monk describes, “we are a value-added company, we don’t sell by the foot or by the meter, we want successful long-term partnerships with dealers and the end-users. The only way we can do that is to treat them fairly and well.” This tradition will surely continue as Reinke continues to expand internationally and make irrigation approachable.
For more information on Reinke Manufacturing, check out their website here.