Iowa State University Extension and Outreach supports economic development in Iowa by growing businesses and strengthening communities. Hagie Manufacturing, in Clarion, Iowa, focuses on innovation in the agricultural machinery manufacturing industry. Hagie’s long-term partnership with the Center for Industrial Research and Service, part of ISU Extension and Outreach, has been a key factor in the company’s success.
Alan Hagie, CEO of Hagie Manufacturing, says:
We’ve been around 65 years, founded in 1947, and we’re at about 385 employees today. We’re basically an ag company. We build application equipment for crop fields.
I had gotten involved with the CIRAS advisory council, a little reluctantly at first, not knowing what it was, but was very grateful that I did. They’re working very closely with Iowa State and making sure that there is a good connection between CIRAS and Iowa State.
Brenda Martin, CIRAS project manager, says:
I started out meeting with Alan, understanding the strategies as the new CEO of the company. We talked about long-term where he wanted the company to go, what things he wanted to be innovative with. We started to look at different opportunities throughout the CIRAS staff expertise, throughout Iowa State, through the research community, the faculty connecting with the laboratories, and overall the cultural changes that Alan saw that he needed here at Hagie.
CIRAS is just one means through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach where Iowans themselves can connect to the university and the great things going on there. We work with companies like Hagie Manufacturing to grow and prosper in their community, so they can maintain their headquarters in a town like Clarion and connect to the university research and technical assistance, helping them to grow and prosper.
I think a lot of the work we’ve done with CIRAS over the years to better understand our capacities, our bottlenecks … really helped us to establish — does it make sense to buy this new equipment? We bought two new lasers. We were outsourcing a lot. We had to evaluate that significantly. A $1.3 million purchase: we have to evaluate that pretty good to make sure it makes sense. I think a lot of the work we’ve done with CIRAS has made us understand how to evaluate those purchases, to make sure they’re the right move for the organization.
Mark McClellan, senior engineering manager at Hagie, says:
We’ve spent the last couple years doing several different projects with Iowa State … a voice of customer survey … some structural testing, utilizing the structures lab in Civil Engineering. We’ve also used CIRAS as a resource to get involved in trainings such as lean product development and project management. Those tools are extremely important to us because they cut down on a significant amount of what I’ll call wasted time, potentially, in the design process that can otherwise be spent on continuing other innovations here at Hagie.
I think the biggest thing that drew us to CIRAS is we wanted to see an outside perspective. Industry experts that CIRAS has were able to take a fresh look at this company and see what the opportunities were. We could really look at all the different aspects of the company and help us solve problems that we had.
The relationship with CIRAS that Hagie Manufacturing has had over the last eight years has been very critical to our success. It’s about looking at it from a fresh perspective. We’re here every day. We see these same things over and over again. We may overlook things. We may not see that we have an opportunity in this area. But CIRAS has opened our eyes in a lot of ways. It’s been a good relationship.