Attachment Technologies is the premier designer and manufacturer of attachments for primary equipment used in construction and agriculture. April Terreri discovers the secret behind a growing company that stays focused.
A Sunday drive through the nation’s farmland will likely bring a person face to face with familiar brand names — John Deere, Caterpillar, New Holland, Kumatsu, Mustang, Volvo, Ingersoll-Rand — painted on farm equipment. In nearby cities, where construction of one sort or another is always happening, one is likely to see the same names on the equipment working hard to build bridges, highways and office buildings. One name people don’t see, but which is also at the top of those fields, is Attachment Technologies.
Attachment Technologies Incorporated (ATI) of Delhi, Iowa, has long been recognized as a manufacturer of quality attachments for construction and agricultural equipment. In fact, ATI’s quality is so superior that those famous manufacturers of primary equipment — themselves premier producers of impeccable quality — are willing to display their own names on attachments designed, engineered and manufactured by ATI.
“Attachment Technologies is the largest attachment manufacturer for the construction and ag markets,” says James Willey, vice president of marketing and business development. “We can supply almost any attachment for use in farm or construction work. ATI’s attachments are designed for a wide variety of primary equipment including skid steers, telescopic handlers, excavators, backhoe loaders, tractors and miniloaders — just to name a few of their numerous applications.
Family of Brands
ATI’s strength lies in its philosophy of manufacturing only the best products to complement its line of equipment. The five brands ATI markets include Bradco®, The Major®, C&P Attachments®, McMillen® and Badger®. ATI sells its products through its own dealer network, through distributors and directly to OEMs.
“The Bradco® brand is the best-known name in backhoe attachments. It is our oldest brand, with the company (Bradco, Inc.) beginning operation in 1964,” says Willey. “Bradco® is the founding brand of what ATI is today. The company started making attachments for digging machines like trenchers and backhoes, both of which eventually became the mainstay line for the Bradco® brand.” Bradco® today offers a full range of attachment products used on skid steers, tractors and miniloaders. “These attachments will work on any primary piece of equipment below the size of a telehandler,” says Willey. Bradco® offers several different types of attachments.
The Major® branded attachments are used on telescopic handlers, wheel loaders and backhoes. The C&P Attachments® and Badger® brands are the largest of ATI’s attachments and include excavator buckets, wheel loader buckets and thumbs.
Another important ATI business segment is augers, marketed under the McMillen® brand. “By far, the largest volume of augers in this segment is our hydraulic planetary earth augers used in construction,” says Willey. These augers range from post-hole digging applications to augers up to 48 inches, which are used to dig holes for planting trees. “We make the augers, the drive units and the bits. We also have earth augers and rock and frost augers as well,” Willey states.
The primary equipment manufacturers use attachments manufactured by ATI and sold under their own brand names, but some of these companies also make their own attachments. ATI operates three manufacturing facilities – totaling 390,000 square feet and located in Tennessee, Wisconsin and Iowa – and employs about 300 people.
Nobody recognizes that everyone loves a good bargain more than ATI. The company’s business strategy is to increase the value of every piece of primary equipment by using its attachments to expand the equipment’s scope of applications. “The reason our attachments are so successful is because they offer your equipment more value and versatility, and allow you to do more with your primary investments,” says Willey.
There’s no moss growing on ATI. This is readily apparent in the impressive number of new products the company is bringing to market this year alone. As a result of its alliance with Digga of Australia, ATI will introduce a new line of trenchers in July 2001. “With this line, we will have the most competitive and most comprehensive line of trenchers available,” says Willey.
The Model 600 trencher, the smallest in the line, is targeted to the mini-excavator, small skid steer and miniwheel loader markets. The Model 625 encompasses all of the features that have made Bradco® trenchers famous. The Model 635 is a durable trencher with a planetary hydraulic drive. “We think this model will revolutionize the market, along with the Model 645, which is a high-drive model with large idlers and a uniquely angled chain,” says Willey. “You can now do more jobs with just the one trencher by converting the Model 635 or 645 trencher from a 3-foot to a 4-foot trencher by adjusting the boom and attaching a section of chain.”
Also making its debut in July is ATI’s new line of brooms and a new bucket sweeper with more capacity than any pickup-type broom on the market. These brooms are designed for use on any hard surface that needs to be swept clean. “For example, after construction when you want to clean a roadway, rather than having a dedicated sweeper, you can put this attachment on your skid steer so that you can clean up after you are finished digging,” explains Willey. “Again, you’re making your equipment a lot more versatile.”
Focus Brings Growth
Willey notes that one of the challenges facing ATI is running a large company while “acting like a small company. You have to be responsive to the market, and you must keep focused at all times with an eye on your goals.” Willey attributes the success of the company to ATI’s management team, including Bob Hartsock, chief executive officer; Steve Hoeger, chief financial officer; Marty Sullivan, vice president of sales; and Bill Hines, general manager and vice president of operations of the Delhi facility. Terry and Gary Wilt, the brothers who founded C&P, manage that facility. Randy Oldenburg manages the Wisconsin facility, and Jim Zielsdorf heads sales at that location.
“We are a growing company, and we are well on the way to being the largest attachment company in the North American market,” says Willey. “And we are expanding into other parts of the world through strategic alliances.” One of these alliances is with Digga, which “is the dominant manufacturer in the Australian market. We are sharing technology with them so that they will be producing ATI products for that market, while we will produce their engineered products for the North American market,” says Willey.
“Our acquisition strategy is also strong, and we will continue to implement this strategy where it makes sense,” he adds. ATI also is working with Simex, an Italian manufacturer, and is exploring other international and industry alliances. Willey explains, “The advantage for these kinds of business partnerships is that you reap the benefit of the synergies of the two partners working together without having to tie up capital or having to manage that other successful company yourself.”
ATI’s goal is to be the attachment source of choice for all primary units of equipment. “That is our dedicated focus,” concludes Willey. “We will continue to search for new ways to make primary equipment more versatile by being proactive and on the cutting edge of technology. This means that we will continue developing new products for new equipment, and expanding the uses and applications of those pieces of equipment.”