Growing business

When it comes to growing things, the Worens Group knows what to do.

Just like its agriculture customers take seeds and grow them into something productive, the Worens Group has taken small product lines and grown them into something substantial.

The company, which operates three divisions, each with its own product line, focuses primarily on the agriculture market. One division makes parts for tractor hitches, one makes grain moisture testers and electric fence components, and the third makes hitches for cars.

Worens Group sells to the large farm supply chains as well as to NAPA. Growth in the ag market is relatively flat, so it has to focus on service.

“In the ’70s, the ag market was a growth-oriented market with about 4 million farmers who had about 2.5 million tractors,” says Gerald Stephens, who leads the company with partner Stafford Worley. “Today, there are less than 2 million farms, but they still have 2.5 million tractors. Our base is more of a businessman than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

“When we go out with something innovative or a new tool that cuts time, they need this thing. They are very cognizant of time and value.”

Where the Worens Group has found success is in making sure its product is on the shelves when the customer needs it. The ag business is seasonal, so it’s important to keep everything stocked during peak selling times.

“The niche that we found and what got us going was supplying from a service standpoint,” says Stephens. “We try to fill orders in three to five days and ship with a 98 percent fill rate. Servicing the heck out of people impacts growth more than new products. When you are talking about tractor linkages or fencing parts, of all the (different parts) we have, there might only be five or six that are new and innovative. The rest have been out for 25 or 30 years.

“We have to service our accounts and be price-competitive. They have to have it because the season is short. They’re grabbing for products, and if the hook is empty, you missed a sale. We don’t miss many sales.”

As a result, all divisions are on the rise. Sales in the tractor hitch division were $35,000 in 1980 but now are about $2.6 million. The electronics division went from $600,000 two years ago to $1.5 million today.

The auto hitch division will bring in $4 million this year, with a projected $5 million next year. How to reach: Worens Group, (330) 562-2222