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How Do We Know?

‘Tis the season many of you are making equipment upgrades & repairs. You’ve no doubt noticed the vast array of planter and drill products—all clamoring for your attention. Are you confused by the mixed messages? Frustrated by the many claims that cannot possibly all be true? Where do you find straight answers? Who should you believe? Do the folks at Exapta know what they’re talking about?

People ask us questions like this. They want to know if they can trust the message and/or the product. We understand those concerns and seek out the honest answers just like you do. 

At Exapta, we live by a code of conduct that defines everything we do as a company (written collaboratively in 2014 by Matt Hagny & Emilie Downs):

1. Our Singular Focus.

It’s no-till, pure and simple. The endeavor that became Exapta Solutions was undertaken by Matt Hagny in 1998, based on the very real need to supply farmers with better seeding tools for no-till. We don’t sell sprayer parts, combine parts, strip-till rigs, etc. We only build and sell things that make no-till seeding more effective, more efficient, more profitable, easier, or more durable. Sometimes we come up with something that helps people in other scenarios, such as strip-till, or even full till (Valions and DuraLoks being prime examples), but make no mistake about our commitment to no-till.

2. Serious, Real-World Testing.

We do all our testing in no-till, in the field, not in highly artificial sand boxes or test stands. The vast hours we spend on research, design, and testing of a product trumps that of other vendors of planter & drill attachments. We scratch a lot of things in the conceptual stage. We build vast numbers of prototypes, many of which never pass the testing phase. We aren’t afraid to scrap inventory if it turns out we made a bad decision.

3. We Examine Our Mistakes, and How They Occurred. 

There are competitors who throw gobs of junk on the market. And if you throw enough mud on the wall, some of it will stick. Unfortunately, the farmers who have to work with all this poorly tested stuff do suffer a lot. Sometimes it seems like: Did anyone really think about how this was going to work? We at Exapta try to be much more deliberate and careful—the difference is that the people at the heart of Exapta have installed enough junk on our own planters and grain drills over the years that we can’t stand to put anyone else through the agony of tearing apart a seeder in the middle of planting to rectify ill-conceived and/or inadequately tested parts. Granted, we still occasionally have something problematic slip through (we’re not perfect), but we take those errors very personally and always go back and analyze how the thought process went astray, what aspect wasn’t tested sufficiently, or what went wrong in the manufacturing or quality control process. We study those failures to try to improve and prevent similar types of mistakes in the future.

4. We’re Not In This Just To Sell Stuff.

We believe in exceptional honesty with customers and potential customers. If our products don’t fit your needs, we will tell you so, and may even have suggestions on which competitor product might be a good fit. If you wonder whether an item of ours is worn out and needs replacement, and you ask us, if we think it’s perfectly good for another season or more, we will encourage you to keep running it—even if we could make a replacement sale right away by fibbing. 

5. We Like Solving Problems.

The burning need to solve a problem in no-till is always the driving factor behind our products and tech tips. We try to find the solution to the true problem, and explain why it was a problem. Oftentimes we’ve openly discussed the problem for years before finding a remedy. We never change our message unless strong new evidence has emerged, or new technology has changed the playing field. Our product line conforms to our message (our knowledge), not the other way around.

6. We Take Feedback.

We rely on innovative farmers and machinists for ideas on better ways of solving a problem. We have a terrific ‘sounding board’ of no-till farmers who put our prototypes through the paces and who are great observers—then we get them to tell us in great detail all the likes, dislikes, problems, or advantages. We test all across the USA & Canada. We get scientists and Ag engineers involved whenever we can. Once our product is on the market, we love hearing from our customers—good or bad. In our view, this is crucial. 

7. Our People. 

Our crew has a collective knowledge that’s deep and wide on no-till seeding, even on products we don’t sell. This stems from the huge volume and diversity of discussions and troubleshooting we’ve had in 21 years of business, all of it focused solely on no-till seeding. Most of Exapta’s sales crew, and all of its Directors, have used no-till exclusively on their farming operations for decades, and some of the younger ones grew up with no-till as the only way to farm—they have no concept of what tillage is, or why anyone would do it. We work together to share knowledge amongst ourselves, and we’re always stoked to learn something new and useful about no-till seeding—be it a tech tip for a certain planter model, or whatever makes it easier for the customer. We share this information readily with the public, via our highly detailed and continually vetted website and newsletters.

We hope this helps you understand a little about how we work. And we hope it will help you gauge the myriad of information and products out there. 

Chris Horton

Chris Horton brings 25 years of management with him. He grew up on his grandparents farm in Reno County Kansas where they mainly grew wheat and cattle feed. He worked on feed lots as a pen rider and cow-calf operations before moving to Southern California where Chris started a new career in the transportation and transport logistics, eventually managing the western region for a large commercial vehicle leasing company. Chris moved home to Kansas, to manage a local Farmers Coop and then eventually the service dept for a tractor dealership. The opportunity to join the Exapta team came up, and he knew he wanted to be a part of this team.

Bob Pagel

Sales & Service Representative

Prior to joining Exapta, Bob Pagel was an Agricultural Territory Sales Manager for Ritchie Brothers, serving parts of MN, WI and IA. He continues to support his family farm in SE Minnesota.

Jon Zeller

Current Product Engineer

Jonathan Zeller joined Exapta excited to return to working with no-till planting equipment. He supported research of no-till planting and other ag related projects for 7 years with Kansas State University’s Agricultural Engineering Department after getting his engineering degree. He later worked 3 years for Landoll Company, LLC. where he gained experience in a design engineering role. Jonathan grew up on a small family farm in NE Kansas working with row crops, hay and cattle. Jonathan enjoys solving engineering problems and improving or creating products to be robust and easy to install and service.