‘Farmers helping farmers’
Personal relationships key to company’s growth
KENMARE – From a couple of farmers selling seed on the side to a full-service agriculture company, Optimum Ag Solutions has come a long way in a short time.
Having sold seed separately, Doug Miller and Chris Tuchscherer came together to sell inoculant and form Optimum Ag Solutions at Kenmare in 2017. They added farm chemicals and then fertilizer. Eventually, Optimum Ag Solutions branched out to custom harvesting, planting, spraying and grain cleaning as well as consulting, with the help of a professional agronomist.
“It just kind of blossomed into farmers helping farmers. Guys like what we do, and we take care of our clients. Things just kind of rolled from there,” Miller said. “Our motto has always been ‘farmers helping farmers’ because we farm a little bit on the side too. So we’ve experimented on our farms.”
“We farm ourselves so that we have a little bit more education as far as what we’re suggesting to the growers,” Tuchscherer added. “We always try to push the best products so that our growers and clients have basically the best return on investment.”
Seed sales remain a staple for Optimum Ag Solutions, which deals primarily in wheat, soybeans, corn and canola. However, Miller noted, “We can source just about anything. We have lots of connections.”
Miller said Optimum Ag Solutions has identified top varieties but continues to grow different varieties in its field trials to make those comparisons and confirm that the best seed remains the best seed.
Optimum Ag Solutions conducts field trials near Kenmare. Every year, it hosts a field day for growers and invites product representatives to talk about what works in the area.
“It’s kind of hard to sell something unless you can back it up with good evidence, some good field trials, some good data, and that’s really been a bonus for us,” Miller said. “It’s really helped us give the customer the best knowledge, and we try to bring the best product for the dollar.”
Additionally, Optimum Ag Solutions relies on information from field trials conducted by its product representatives around the state. That’s been important because the company’s trade area extends from eastern Montana to Rugby and almost as far south as Bismarck.
The company strives not to get so big that it can’t handle the heart of its service area, which is northwest North Dakota, Miller said.
Miller said their mission is about taking care of regular customers and adding new customers at a pace that enables them to take good care of them as well. They aim to offer a face-to-face business style with a handshake atmosphere, he said.
“We’re not just selling a product and then coming back the next year and selling another product,” Tuchscherer said. “We try to interact with our growers and clients throughout the year because we care about how our product is doing on their operation. Because we don’t succeed if they don’t succeed.”
He said many hours are spent meeting with farmers throughout the growing season to see how the company’s seed and crop protection are working for them.
“Personal relationships are more important to us than the best selling products,” said Mark Trout, one of two full-time employees in the business.
Trout and employee Maddie Wald also have farm backgrounds and maintain active farm interests. Trout is a fourth generation farmer from Sherwood. Surrey native Wald graduated from Bismarck State College with an associate degree in agronomy.
Miller and Tuchscherer both attended North Dakota State University. Miller operates his Kenmare family farm and has previously operated small businesses on the side.
Tuchscherer, a wrestler at NDSU, went on to participate professionally for six years in Mixed Martial Arts. He fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship for three years before coming back to agriculture, working in a large farm operation.
Optimum Ag Solutions also depends on the help of seasonal employees, whose numbers have been increasing. The company’s client base has almost doubled in the past two years, placing the business in a position to consider constructing another building. Miller said future expansion, like previous expansion, will be based on customer needs.
“For us, our next step is just to make sure we take care of our clients,” Miller said. “We’ve grown in lots of different fashions to make sure we can do that.”