Meet the Mastermind Behind Air Seeder Parts and Learn How He is Solving Major Issues for Farmers
Made by the Farmer, for the Farmer— that’s the story of Daniel Altepeter of Air Seeder Parts, LLC. Being a farmer and landowner since high school and farming 500 acres of land by age 23, Altepeter understands the importance of needing farm equipment that stands the test of time. He also knows the unfortunate truth that not all of it does. That’s why he set out to build something better.
An Issue of Corrosion
Having access to his farm shop was one of Altepeter’s biggest assets on his family farm. If there was a repair that needed to be done or something that needed maintenance, they did the work all on their own. Through doing this, Altepeter learned at a young age which parts lasted and which parts eventually failed. At one point, these observations led to a very serious discovery— the air seeders the family were using were corroding from fertilizer due to the components being made of aluminum and mild steel.
A concerned Altepeter was determined to find a solution, so he set out to modify his own air seeders with stainless steel components.
Finding a Solution
Altepeter took to the internet to find replacement parts. He searched obvious keywords like “stainless steel”, “air seeder parts” and “John Deere parts” but came up empty. At the time, there was nothing available and no one was in the business of providing the stainless steel parts he desired. So, he decided to take matters into his own hands—or farm shop, if you will.
“We need to [make this ourselves],” said Altepeter to one of his hired hands. And although to both of them it sounded like a great idea, they knew it was going to be very hard to design something. After all, they were not engineers; Altepeter went to college for farm business management. But they knew how to make things, and that was all they needed to start creating an idea. Too much time and money had been wasted on replacing the same components every few years and he was ready to create something better.
At the time, Altepeter wasn’t focused on creating a company, he just wanted to create a meter for himself that he could use. However, he realized that if he was having corrosion issues with his air seeders, other farmers probably were too.
That’s when Air Seeder Parts was born.
When Altepeter was deciding what business name to choose for a website, he wanted a name that people could easily remember, so what better domain name than airseederparts.com?
From Rendering to Reality
“I wasn’t thinking so much about starting a company [back then],” said Altepeter. “I was just trying to make a meter to fit my air seeder—and I was going to make it my way.”
In terms of design, Altepeter had already been using a custom-made shut-off system for his meters that he made a few years earlier. After proven success, it was now time to take the components he had modified for personal use and turn that into a manufacturable design.
One of the main issues with the old meters he was experiencing was that they had a double wall design that accumulated dust and particles that would, over time, cause the meter to absorb moisture to the point of swelling and causing distortion. So, with his new stainless steel design, Altepeter opted for a single wall design that would eliminate this issue.
Now that he had a design he was pleased with, Altepeter connected with a designer to create his first 3D rendering. Unfortunately, some of the components he had designed on-screen weren’t possible for the manufacturer’s machining guidelines, so further revisions were necessary.
Finally, the design came to life and all of the pieces were made. Similar to a children’s wooden puzzle, Altepeter laid all the components out and assembled the newly designed meter, piece by piece—and everything fit perfectly!
The next feat was to find a manufacturer to produce a final product. Because working locally was important to Altepeter, he contacted a fabricator in Grand Forks to evaluate his design. After several meetings, the first meter housing, “The Boss Meter” was fabricated and assembled. The Boss Meter was structurally designed to fit OEM air carts. The original Boss Meter was made using corrosion-resistant 304-StainlessSteel and High Abrasion Wear Plastic. Components were built with CNC (Computer Numeric Control) lasers, press brakes, and mills to ensure consistency. The single-wall design prevented fertilizer and dust from accumulating, preventing swelling and distortion.
Into the Hands of Farmers
The next step was marketing the air seeder parts and selling them. So in the spring of 2017, Altepeter had 25 units manufactured and attended an ag show to see how other farmers would respond. The result was staggering; all 25 units sold.
That summer, Altpeter followed up with every grower who purchased each of the 25 meters and the feedback was positive. After making only a few slight tweaks, it was time to manufacture more units to market at the Big Iron Farm Show in West Fargo. This time, Altpeter had 50 units made to be sold—and it’s a good thing he did. His meters continued to grab attention and demand for more units grew. Altpeter had groups of dealerships, some from as far as central Montana, come to him and say, “you sold one of these [meters] to my customers and they brought it in to have us install it, and we would like to sell these for you. Where do we sign?”
Leaving Big Iron in the fall of ’17, I realized that this was going to be a big thing.
“Leaving Big Iron in the fall of ’17, I realized that this was going to be a big thing,” said Altepeter.
Keep in mind that he was still a full-time farmer, working roughly 5,000 acres of land. So the decision was made to scale back farming in order to invest more time and energy into his newly growing company.
By that winter, he had a handful of dealers selling Air Seeder Parts products. It wasn’t long after, the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) Aftermarket Division connected with Altepeter in hopes to not only sell his Boss Meter regionally, but also through any dealership worldwide. The OEM liked what they saw in Altepeter’s designs and products, forming a partnership, selling Air Seeder Parts, exclusively, globally.
Since then, Altepeter has been able to move his operation from his home farm office to a permanent location in Grand Forks. His company has grown from just two people to now twelve, ranging from engineers, assembly, business operations and marketing.
Air Seeder Parts product line has increased from 1 part to almost 150 today. Current product offerings include meter housings, tank transition kits, single and double shoot manifolds, tubes, couplers, meter rollers, hardware and more – all made from high quality stainless steel and plastics.
“It’s like a little kid’s dream that maybe someday he’d be making something for John Deere,” Altpeter said.
Altepeter named his first meter housing “the Boss Meter.” The “ss” in Boss stands for “stainless steel.”
But for Altepeter, that’s no reason to get comfortable. As more and more of his products are getting into the hands of dealers and farmers, one of his main goals is quality assurance and gaining feedback from customers. “Everyone has always been so happy with the product that we’ve sold,” he said. “You can open up any John Deere parts catalog and find my brand of parts.” For Altepeter, that’s what he’s most proud of—knowing that his passion for enhancing the quality of farming has come to fruition; his “see-a-need-fill-a-need” mentality is making a positive impact on farmers’ lives. Since Air Seeder Parts has come onto the scene, other companies have started to follow suit—but none are farmers. Altepeter believes that his experience first as a farmer allows him to better understand what issues other farmers are having and be able to create solutions through unique design and testing that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
So, what’s next? Now that Air Seeder Parts are accessible globally, the possibilities are endless. Altepeter is using this opportunity to not only focus on stainless steel meters but now all parts of air seeders and drills.
Made by the farmer, for the farmer. That’s Air Seeder Parts.
Air Seeder Parts LLC
2949 27th Ave N,
Grand Forks, ND 58203
Go to airseederparts.com to browse their entire catalog of parts!