Krone expecting more growth in U.S. hay and forage market

Bernard Krone says the first time he heard the American expression “Put your money where your mouth is” he thought it was very unhygienic.

Krone’s comment got a good laugh at the Krone NA dealers meeting at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn., where the North American operation of the worldwide hay and forage equipment manufacturer is headquartered.

But Krone, the CEO of German-based Krone Group, was using the saying to make a point – Krone is putting its money where it’s mouth is by pouring millions of dollars into a new technology center and expanded manufacturing and warehouse facilities in Europe and the United States.

That this is happening at a time when other farm equipment makers are cutting back on investments and laying off hundreds of workers was not lost on dealers and their employees who came to Memphis to learn about the company’s newest hay and forage offerings and how to sell and service them.

“Those of you who know me know that agriculture is my passion,” said Krone, the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the company. “Krone does have a very successful trailer division, and we are proud of that business, as well, but agriculture is my passion. My office is in a rural area of Germany, and my heart is in our ag business.”

Being committed

Referring to the “money where your mouth is” phrase, Krone said, “We can’t just talk about being committed to the ag industry, we need to prove our commitment to agriculture by investing in that part of our business, and that’s exactly what we did.”

Bernard Krone says that during a time when many of its competitors were cutting back, Krone chose to invest. “Our facilities in Germany have undergone a massive overhaul. We have a state-of-the-art wonderful new manufacturing facility. We have invested heavily in research and development and engineers, and we have a brand new shipping and training center in Germany.

“In North America, we have invested in our facility here in Memphis. By leasing a new facility, we have doubled the size of our Reno, Nev., operation to better serve that part of the country.

Referring to the “Growing Your Tomorrow” theme of the Memphis event, Krone said, “What a great slogan. We don’t want to just grow our own business; we want to grow together. This shows our strong understanding of partnership.”

Krone has shown significant growth in North America in the last three decades, rising from $1.6 million in 1987 to more than $120 million in sales in 2014, a growth rate of 12 percent per year or about 35 times the sales in 1987.

“I told Tommy (Jones, the new president of Krone North America) that he only has to triple the sales before he can retire,” said Krone, drawing another laugh from the audience. “If this growth continues, we project that Krone North America could be as big in sales volume as Krone in Europe by 2020.”

New products

Among the new products shown in Memphis were entries from Krone’s Comprima line, including the new F 155 Round Baler and the Comprima V 150 and V180 balers. The latter enable growers to produce concise round bales with some of the production advantages of large square balers.

Also on display were the new EasyCut B 1000 CR and EasyCut B 1000 CR Collect triple mowers. The mower conditioner features a hydraulically adjustable working width of 30-feet-6-inches to 33-feet-2-inches. Another new mower model is the EasyCut F 360 CR Glide, a front-mount disc mower with a working width of 11-feet-8-inches and an intermeshing rubber roller conditioner.

Krone also introduced a new tedder model, the KWT 882 T rotary tedder, which has a working width of 28-feet-10-inches and a low tractor requirement of 55 horsepower.

For more information on Krone, go to www.krone-na.com.

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