About a year ago, I bought a new Priefert chute. I always want to know everything about a product before I spend ranch money – grew up with a Dad that constantly reminded us that “you should not spend $1 unless it will make you $2” – definitely a hard-working no frills kind of guy. So I went over chute specs – strength – reliability – workability – cost – etc. Then I was told that the Priefert organization was the absolutely best at service – that they would take care of ALL problems expediently. That sounded great and was the deal maker. But it’s easy to talk about service when everything is new and you haven’t started running cattle through that chute.
So everything was going great – until our Fall work – where every cow is loaded in the chute for a thorough examination – vaccinations – and preg testing. Maybe 100 head had gone through when the tail gate would not stay closed – an important feature for a vet palpating – so the next cow does not run into the chute on top of him. We were manually holding the tail gate closed. There was a number on the chute to call for service. We called – a real person answered – and wanted to know if we wanted someone to come out right then. We thought that was admirable but we needed to keep going to finish our work. That was on a Friday. When I came in late Friday night, I made a note to call Priefert again to schedule a service call.
OK – here is where it gets unbelievable!! I didn’t have to call – I got a call on Monday morning – FIRST THING. “Hi – my name is Ivan Zambrano. I am a sales rep for Priefert and I am on my way to see what is wrong with your chute. I am also bringing Robert Quezada our Quality Control Coordinator.”
When they arrived, they apologized profusely for any inconvenience. I took them down into the pasture where the chute was. They knew immediately what had happened – an adjustment screw at the back of the chute had vibrated loose. There was a sticker that was supposed to point to the screw to tighten but the sticker had shifted and was pointing to another screw. Ivan fixed it and went over every aspect of the chute with me – how efficient the chute was to work. Robert was taking pictures to take back to the factory so the sticker could be moved to point to the correct screw to tighten. I have never been more impressed with two young men – polite – friendly – so knowledgeable – solid representatives for the service we had heard so much about. As if prompt attention to our “small” problem was not enough – they offered to come back the next time we worked cows and go over the chute’s working with our cowboys. Now that’s smart!! Those cowboys work so many ranches – they will be the best at marketing Priefert to other ranch owners. But as I learned – that is not a marketing strategy – that is the Priefert way. I wanted to know more.
Courtney Dyer, Assistant Director – Sales & Marketing cordially invited me to tour the Priefert factory in Mt. Pleasant, Texas – meet Bill & Eddie Priefert.
They had just finished a two day training session – “Priefertization” – where dealers send their new employees to tour the production facility to see first-hand how Priefert products are made, witnessing each step of the process from raw material to finished good. This is followed by a hands-on training session where participants learn about a variety of products and ultimately get to work cattle on the ranch, using a Priefert sweep system and squeeze chute. So when you and I go to buy a chute the people we are talking to will have the confidence and credibility to tell us all we need to know before we buy. I am sure it was an exhausting two days of training – but Courtney met me with a smile – welcomed me with enthusiasm.
For those of you who follow Texas Rancher Girl – you know that sometimes my attention to detail can be exhausting. So instead of me telling you the Priefert story – I want you to watch this video and hear the Priefert family tell their amazing story.
But what you can’t see on the video is what I felt in that manufacturing facility. FAMILY – REAL AND EXTENDED!! As Courtney took us around – people smiled and greeted each other – all the employees were courteous – friendly – informative. It didn’t matter the job – from the slitter – the tube mill – the welding stations – powder coat – paint – engineers – marketing and sales – all were engaging. When the first robots were discussed, the Prieferts wanted efficiency but “machines were not to replace people”. Not one person lost their job.
I did not get to sit down with Bill Priefert because family had arrived – aunts and uncles in their 90’s that needed his attention. His priority was his family. (I think that speaks volumes about this man’s heart). But he came in to say hello and visit for a few minutes. Here is a man who runs a company endorsed by so many celebrities – George Strait, Baxter Black – and he was concerned that one rancher had been taken care of. Such humility – but such greatness!!
When I got to sit down with Eddie Priefert – Priefert’s President – I asked him what made Priefert great – his answer was a resounding – the people!! To quote: “The Lord has blessed us. It started with my Grandpa – his leadership – the culture he created. That group of initial people formed the base of the DNA that is bred into our employment. We have good people – people of integrity that take pride in their work. We give our people responsibility – we empower them to cull those that are not doing a good job. People that don’t fit – leave. There are no secrets in our company – it is an open book – everyone needs to know so they can all contribute to making things better. It is always the employees that can tell us what is going on. We listen – no need for whistle blowers – we encourage every employee to speak out. Everyone needs to be headed in the same direction.” No surprise that Priefert was voted Employer of the Year 2011 – 2012 and voted top 5 in the State.
Priefert is quality. Quality control is administered by the over 900 employees. They are given incentives to find mistakes before the products leave the factory floor. For example – if a mis-weld is found – the panel is marked with a welder’s ID – the panel is sent back to the welder who has to stop his current job to repair his problem. The employee who found the mistake gets a bonus and the welder who is paid on quantity loses money by having to stop and repair. This process encourages the employees to balance speed of production with quality. Not many mistakes are found.
Quality is paramount to the Prieferts – reputation – but also animal safety. I like a company that is concerned about the welfare of my animals. No rough edges – rounded corners – escape doors – all just part of animal welfare. So much attention to detail!! Since the Prieferts are ranchers – they know first-hand that you can’t leave anything to chance with horses or cattle. If there is a way for these animals to get themselves in trouble – they will. But the Priefert equipment seems to be constructed through the eyes of the animal and the rancher. Have you ever noticed the round welded end caps on your panels? No plastic cap – it is a durable one time solution so the rancher does not have to worry about rain getting inside to rust and shorten the life of his panels. They don’t “cut corners” – they make corners that last!!
So let’s take a pictorial walk thru of the Priefert manufacturing facility.
Priefert uses an Automatic Storage & Retrieval System – Erle and Haskell. Doesn’t it boggle your mind to think about all the small parts that are needed to construct our ranch equipment? Enter Erle. The small parts are kept in organized boxes all listed in a computer. The computer operator enters all the parts needed and Erle goes up and down the aisle collecting the order – placing it in another box to bring down to the operator.
Since there are over 20 acres under roof of this facility and 200 acres of manufacturing, storage of product to be completed can be a problem. Enter Haskell. Haskell stores 16 foot panels in bricks until they are ready to be powder coated.
Interesting fact: The Prieferts don’t order anything and have it brought in. They build everything they need themselves!! WOW!!
A lot has changed since that first headgate, but decades later one thing remains constant – Priefert is committed to producing quality products. Located on the outskirts of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, the family’s ranch is the first proving ground for the vast majority of Priefert products. That’s why they say “Built by Ranchers, for Ranchers”. Durability, versatility, and functionality are combined with first-rate craftsmanship and an eye for detail as products are made to fit the needs and demands of a growing market. Cattle ranchers with herds from 10 to 10,000, horse owners seeking safety for their animals and ease of operation, and people who simply embrace the rural lifestyle and the western way of life can all appreciate Priefert Ranch Equipment.
But the Prieferts are never finished – with over 50 patents to Marvin’s credit – 25 plus to Bill and the boys – they have also expanded into other business as their manufacturing facility required additional businesses to meet its needs – they took “the bull by the horns” and diversified.
Priefert Complex Designs was formed to address the needs of fairgrounds and expo centers that must be constructed to safely and efficiently accommodate people and livestock. Whether the goal is retrofitting existing facilities or starting construction from the ground up, Priefert Complex Designs, has the ability to design, build and/or manage construction of agricultural, rodeo and equestrian facilities. Combining decades of hands-on experience in the livestock industry with a broad range of engineering, architectural and construction know-how, these experts can make your ideas a reality.
Priefert Logistics is a third-party and asset based logistics provider that specializes in transportation management services, including freight consulting, brokerage services, and a full service truck shop. Proudly built on a reputation of honesty, integrity, fairness, customer service and developing mutually rewarding partnerships with its customers, Priefert Logistics has expanded beyond the role of servicing Priefert Mfg. to meet the growing demands for its trucking and dedicated logistics and brokerage services throughout the continental US.
With a history of steel fabrication and a high consumption volume of shape and coil products, Priefert’s expansion into the steel sales market was a natural progression. Priefert Steel Sales offers a variety of processed steel products directed to supply the trailer industry, the oil and gas market, home construction, fabricators, original and after-market equipment manufacturers, and steel service centers.
What next? Eddie smiled – “we are working on several equipment prototypes for wild life ranches. You know – Dad (Bill) is built different. He is never going to sit still – no need for money – only wants to grow – put the money back in – keep moving forward. The entire Priefert family works. Dad says we all have the “opportunity” to work – no one is going to sit at home and collect a salary.”
I have never been more moved by a family and their story as I have been by visiting with the Prieferts. They exhibit the hard-working ethics of every ranch family – honesty, integrity, reliability – wanting always to make things to last. To quote Marvin – “We are who we are, because they were who they were”.
Ranch families know – we are all instilled with all that made our forefathers but they never intended for us to rest on what they did – for things to stay the same. They did not intend for us to walk in their boots – to just embrace the legacy – they intended for us to create new trails in our own boots. Past generations are not honored by us playing small – hanging on – maintaining what they built – “doing things like Dad did it”. I believe they wanted us to create new trails – create our own paths – make things better. The Prieferts have cut their own trail – always doing things better – always moving forward. To quote Eddie – “And we are not finished yet!!” I believe that – this ranching family is not “finished yet” – they never will be. Thank God for this entrepreneurial spirit – this heart for family and friends – this hard work ethic – this kindness and generosity. The Prieferts talk about their blessings. I believe they have been a blessing to many and will continue to be.
And by the way – for any of you looking to buy a squeeze chute or panels in the near future – do yourselves a favor – buy Priefert. It is the right choice!!