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Travis Routh, part owner of L&D Ag Service in Hartland, stands behind the counter of the business. Routh has worked at L&D for 14 years and has been a part owner for seven years. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune
Travis Routh, part owner of L&D Ag Service in Hartland, stands behind the counter of the business. Routh has worked at L&D for 14 years and has been a part owner for seven years. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Ag service keeps up with the trends

Published 10:50am Thursday, May 29, 2014

HARTLAND — For over 30 years, L&D Ag Service has been one step ahead of agriculture trends.

The business has expanded  thanks to cutting-edge technology playing a bigger part in agriculture over the past 10 years, according to part owner and general manager Travis Routh.

L&D, at 408 Broadway St. in Hartland, manages and sells fertilizing and precision ag equipment, such as planters and applicators largely used in corn and soybean farming.

One of their largely expanding sources of revenue is their fertilizer kits. The kits include pumps for the liquid fertilizer, tanks to house them in and plumbing to keep the whole system running, among other parts. L&D has taken the kits to a number of national trade shows, and they’re now sold to customers in 25 states, as well as Canada and Russia.

Another major product base L&D offers is different precision equipment, like GPS and electronic application controls. Different technological advances now make it possible for farmers to map out crops electronically and use such applications as auto steering.

According to Routh, L&D has been able to keep on trend with different advances in technology thanks to smaller company trade shows bringing about the new applications before their larger competitors do. Routh said that L&D employees are also interested in electronic components and make a point to keep up with them. He said the technological transition has largely been seamless for customers, with early adapters catching on relatively quickly and having a trickle-down effect to the rest of the customer base.

“It’s about figuring out what will sell, what will work and what people will buy,” he said.

Routh owns L&D with Larry Nelson and Matt Mithun. Nelson is the original owner and opened the business in 1981. He brought Routh and Mithun in as part-owners seven years ago as part of his secession plan, as he plans to retire in about a year.

L&D has roughly 25 employees, all of which hail from the Freeborn and Hartland areas. Routh said almost all of the employees have some kind of background in agriculture, from farming to working in fertilizer plants. Routh has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

The bigger challenges L&D faces are unpredictable growing seasons, the economy and keeping up with trends, Routh said. Right now, while he said commodity prices could be better, the weather is improving and crop variable are looking much better than they were two weeks ago.

For Routh, the best part of the business is the variety from day to day. His daily responsibilities vary from sales, human resources, employee issues, inventory, advertising and maintenance, among others.

“I like doing something different every day,” he said. “I don’t think I’d do well with monotony.”