Genesis building to get new owner
By ANDREW MCGINN firstname.lastname@example.org
David Maach figured if he was going to do business with a Fortune 500 company, it might look a tad more professional if he moved his startup off his dad’s farm.
That’s how LDM Ag Services came to move off a farm south of Beaver and into a proper building of its own in Grand Junction.
Maach’s latest move — into the massive, 56,135-square-foot commercial building on West McKinley Street in Jefferson last occupied by Genesis Development — is an even more impressive look for LDM.
If nothing else, it suggests that the protege of Vaughn Bauer, the closest thing Greene County has ever had to an industrial magnate, will be one to watch.
“For me, it’s kind of like Bauer Built 2.0. It’s finding a niche and making it happen,” said Maach, 41, who got his start as a mechanical engineer at Bauer Built Manufacturing in Paton in the days of the John Deere DB120, still the largest planter on Earth.
Maach started LDM on the side in 2009 to supply components to his boss, a guy whose ingenuity had led Deere & Co. to come calling with an offer to make co-branded planters with Bauer Built, including the famed DB120 — a 48-row, 120-foot-wide planter that looks as if the Mahanay Bell Tower was turned on its side and hooked up behind a tractor.
When Deere ended up buying out Bauer Built’s assets and intellectual property in 2013, Maach then started supplying the corporate giant with components.
Maach is still a supplier to Deere, but it’s his own product line — a frame weight distribution kit for planters — that has enabled LDM to outgrow two separate buildings in Grand Junction and a third in Paton.
Once the move to Jefferson is complete, the work will finally be consolidated under one roof in a space more than six times the size of his original building.
But even Maach isn’t sure LDM can grow into its new home.
“The office is probably way more than we need,” Maach confessed on a recent morning, referring to the now-darkened administrative half of the building. “The shop will be nice.”
Simply put, though, Maach got the deal of the century: he’ll be acquiring the building for $550,000. It initially hit the market at over $1 million, he said.
The building last served as the headquarters for Genesis, which imploded financially in 2019 after nearly five decades of supporting and empowering people with disabilities across Iowa. While a number of its services were taken over by Maquoketa-based Imagine the Possibilities, the main Genesis building — a hub for recycling and its own corrugated box business — was put on the market.
As part of Genesis’ bankruptcy, Maach is currently renting the building, and moving equipment and inventory from Grand Junction while the weather is still good, with hopes of taking ownership in October.
“I got a steal on this thing,” he said.
Maach said he’ll likely lease out the office space.
Ideally, Maach would have preferred to build a facility in Paton, where John Deere manufactures planters, but the cost of new construction is just too prohibitive right now, he said.
Much like his mentor, Bauer, Maach has found a niche for himself in the world of planter add-ons and other custom work.
“Usually it revolves around planting faster,” Maach said.
Giant, center-fill planters are now ever-present in farming operations, but they’re not without drawbacks — ironically, they’re a big cause of soil compaction that stunts yields and contributes to ponding after it rains, which in turn increases the odds that nutrients will wash off fields into streams.
“Compaction is a huge factor,” Maach said of a problem facing growers that has only grown in proportion to the machinery.
Consider, for example, that a tractor back in the 1940s weighed less than 3 tons. A tractor today, on the other hand, weighs 20 tons, with wheel traffic the major cause of compaction. Wet soil is more susceptible to compaction — and, really, when is it not wet anymore at planting time each spring?
Weight in the large planters is unevenly concentrated in the center, causing compaction in the middle rows, and can even cause the outer wings to come off the ground. As more producers turn to no-till farming as a conservation practice, more weight is needed in the wings to ensure that each seed is planted with enough downforce.
Enter LDM’s hydraulic-actuated weight transfer system for planters.
“It’s moving weight off the center and shifting it to where it’s actually beneficial,” Maach said.
Only a couple of models have frame-weight distribution features available as a factory option, meaning there are thousands of existing planters for Maach to retrofit and new planters that can be outfitted even before they leave the dealer.
Bauer Built, he said, turned out 10,000 co-branded DB Series planters alone — with widths from 44 to 120 feet — before Deere acquired the operation.
“The numbers are kind of mind boggling,” Maach said.
And those are just John Deere planters.
This past spring, LDM outfitted its first Case-made planters with frame weight distribution kits.
In his new factory space, Maach also will be powder coating some parts, namely seed manifolds, for new Deere planters.
“It’s all stuff I kind of designed back in the day,” Maach said.
In another interesting twist, service calls to Deere about their Bauer Built planters get forwarded to Maach’s cellphone.
But Maach is quick to note that he doesn’t have what Vaughn Bauer had with John Deere.
“It was unique what Vaughn had,” Maach explained. “He had a true partnership.”
Maach, who grew up in Ogden, landed at Bauer Built in 2003 as an intern in mechanical engineering from Iowa State. Graduating in 2006, he stayed on just in time for Bauer Built to design the DB120 in 2008.
When it debuted in 2009, the massive planter was a sensation.
Maach said they didn’t have to worry about marketing that or any other planter — that was Deere’s end of it — but they nevertheless accommodated more than a few factory tours in Paton.
Maach is listed as co-inventor with Bauer on other patented Deere & Co. components.
Maach, who regards Bauer like something of a second dad, seemed well-prepped to step out on his own, which he finally did full-time in 2018. LDM now employs six full-time and another five or six part-time.
Bauer is the type of guy, Maach observed, who has a “million irons in the fire.” But it’s his attention to one particular detail that left the biggest impression on Maach going forward.
“Vaughn ultimately cared about the customer,” he said. “Always there to fix a problem.”