When Mel Pollock started his custom bagging operation 20-plus years ago, he went into it with a win-win mindset — for him and for his clients.

“I'm always working to improve the services I offer my customers to help improve their bottom lines,” he says. “That's always been my goal, and that's what ultimately has grown my business.”

Pollock, owner of Buckeye Sealed Storage, compacts and bags over 40,000 tons of feed annually near New Philadelphia, OH. He also sells bagging equipment and agricultural plastic products.

His clients' operations range from 30 to 1,000 cows, and Pollock has had a lot of experience keeping them satisfied. Here's what he recommends to keep your business healthy:

  • Educate yourself — and your clients. Seminars, trade shows, Internet research, magazine articles and discussions with dairymen help keep Pollock in tune with the industry, able to identify upcoming changes and opportunities. Passing on any information, tips or ideas to clients strengthens his working relationships with them.

    For instance, Pollock works to educate dairy clients on the moisture value of bagged haylage or corn silage.

    “There's a tendency for producers to want to harvest forages when they're too dry,” he says. “With bagging, you want the moisture level to be high enough for proper fermentation and a good build-up of lactic acid. This helps the cows absorb nutrients more readily and produce more milk.”

  • Communicate with and be available to customers. “Of course, that means cell phone bills are high,” he laughs. “But it's all part of the need for custom operators to be flexible to meet their customers' needs.”

  • Play to your strengths. “Consider your abilities and build a core business based on your interests, knowledge, training and strengths,” Pollock says.

    He thrives on working with dairy producers because he understands their needs, tailoring his services to meet them. When needed, he also networks with other custom harvesters to provide clients with a complete harvesting package.

  • Use high-quality equipment. Pollock owns six bagging machines of various sizes and capabilities. The baggers, along with two part-time employees, enable him to be available on short notice during the busy season, from mid-May through late fall.

    Pollock buys the best machines available and keeps equipment updated to prevent breakdowns. He also emphasizes using only high-quality plastic. “It is senseless to have a quality machine if you're storing your feed in an inferior plastic.”

  • Pencil out the client's profits. Whenever possible, Pollock shows customers concrete ways they can benefit from his services. He likes to demonstrate how bagging offers dairymen unlimited storage, minimal storage loss and the highest-quality feed possible. That, in turn, helps ensure farmers' increased milk production and profitability.

For more information, contact Pollock at 330-243-5822 or bagmanmel@aol.com.