Landon Vogel is a Fargo business entrepreneur who founded Prairie Ag Products in the summer of 2019 when he had the opportunity to branch off a local seed company. He was working at Agassiz Seed & Supply at the time, working in the industrial supplies and crane testing division. Vogel graduated from MSUM with a degree in Industrial Distribution Technologies.
The vision for Prarie Ag Products was to take an already great base from Agassiz and put a personal spin on it, utilizing new ideas and building an online presence.
One opportunity Vogel saw was the potential to reach younger farmers through web and social media. “There’s a big mix between the old and the new,” says Vogel, when speaking about the farming and agriculture industry. “Some of the older guys still like to use catalogs, whereas some of the newer guys are getting online.”
For Vogel, it’s not just the expansion into the online world that gives Prairie Ag a unique edge–it’s the equipment itself, specifically the testing equipment.
“It’s a kind of a niche thing with the grain testing equipment,” says Vogel. “Whether it’s moisture meters, protein testing equipment, or anything that requires any type of grain grading– there’s just not a lot of people out there that do it.”
Growing a healthy crop begins long before the seed is planted in the field. For Vogel, that process begins with the right testing equipment. “I think when you’re in the agriculture world, you always see moisture meters or protein machines sitting at the elevator, but you don’t really think much about where they come from,” says Vogel, who prides himself in his high-quality testing machines.
The Perten 5200 series moisture meter is one of Vogel’s best-selling products. These machines measure and identify the proper moisture level of the seed, especially for proper storage when it’s not being planted. “It’s a very important piece of equipment for the elevators even for farm guys,” says Vogel.
Selling superior testing products and equipment isn’t the only thing Prairie Ag Products offers. Vogel also prizes his business in service and repairs for old testing meters. For him, it’s an opportunity to showcase the high-quality services Prairie Ag Products can offer, while also introducing new industry-standard products and technology to customers. “We get a lot of compliments in it,” says Vogel while speaking of their repair services. “We can recondition the meters and turn them into what they were in the 60s and 70s–and when they come in we can also show them the new technology that’s out there.”
It’s no surprise that COVID-19 caused plenty of struggles for businesses across the United States, but it also presented unique opportunities to implement new strategies for success and keep businesses open and serving customers. For Vogel, the biggest struggle the pandemic brought was being able to travel to customers and provide on-sight service.
“I tried to find the best marketing tools–get more into social media,” says Vogel, who has a vision for expanding his business into the world of social marketing. “Recently, I put together a catalog to send out to a bunch of customers–just letting them know where we are at.” For Vogel, it’s about staying connected and engaged with his customers and finding creative new ways to reach them.
When choosing a location for Prairie Ag Products, Fargo was a no-brainer for Vogel. “I’ve been here for 20-plus years, and I love the community,” says Vogel. “I like to cover South Dakota and Minnesota as well– Fargo’s [location] is a real bonus point.” Vogel is currently just a team of one, so Fargo becomes an essential location to reach the most customers within a reasonable distance.
Starting is a business is something that rarely happens overnight, and for Vogel, it was an interest that took years to manifest. “I always felt like I enjoyed the business world,” says Vogel, when talking about his journey to start Prairie Ag Products. “I enjoyed working with people– I felt like I wanted to do more; I started listening to books when I was on the road all the time and started reading things.”
However, it’s not all sunshine and roses when starting a business; there’s plenty of intimidation as well. “There’s just a lot of unknowns,” says Vogel. “At least there was for me because I hadn’t been on the finance side of the world before.”
Vogel believes you don’t always need to start a business from scratch, and his advice to other entrepreneurs is to not overlook some of those other opportunities, such as buying a division of a company, which is what he did with Prairie Ag Products. “There’s a lot of opportunities out there of all these older people that maybe want to retire,” says Vogel. “Maybe they want to get out of it, and they don’t have somebody that can take it on– So don’t overlook those opportunities, either.”
Vogel’s future vision for Prairie Ag Products is to expand the business into the social marketing world, in hopes of reaching a new demographic of customers. He hopes that with a combination of quality products and new ways of marketing, he can reach the next generation of farmers.