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Charging ahead

Herdsman Brand collaborates with stalwart Parker McCrory to manufacture industry-leading electric fence products
Story and photos by Chris Villines 8/29/2018

 

A circuit board for a Herdsman Brand fence charger is painstakingly populated with components at Parker McCrory Mfg. Co. headquarters in Kansas City. Every charger assembled by workers at the 97-year-old company is done so by hand — such attention to detail and commitment to the “made in America” mantra are primary reasons why Tennessee Farmers Cooperative has trusted Parker McCrory since the mid-1980s.
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In America’s heartland, an organization established almost 100 years ago is the first choice many farmers turn to for top-quality, U.S.-made electric fencing products:

Parker McCrory Mfg. Co.

Formed in 1921 by Harold Parker and Kenneth McCrory, the Kansas City-based company started out manufacturing highly specialized farm radios and wind chargers under the Parmak label. In fact, the Parmak Wind Charger, which generated electricity from wind to give thousands of farms a first-ever taste of electrical power, is on permanent display at the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kan.

A little over a decade into Parker McCrory’s existence, the company switched its focus to become the world’s first large-scale maker of electric fence chargers, again using the name Parmak for branding. Parmak’s innovations include the world’s first solid-state electric fencer, developed in 1958, and America’s first solar-powered fence charger, which debuted in 1975.

In 1999, Parker McCrory added to its portfolio by acquiring Canada’s Baygard Electric Fence Products, allowing it to expand its offerings of fence chargers, wire and tape, fence insulators, fence posts, and other fence accessories.

Today, at its facility a stone’s throw from downtown Kansas City, Parker McCrory’s 100-plus employees continue the attention to detail that has cemented the company’s reputation for making top-notch, American-crafted electric fencing products. And this good standing earned the trust of the organizations which together own the Herdsman Brand — Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Alabama Farmers Cooperative, MFA Incorporated, Intermountain Farmers Association, and Alliance Farm & Ranch — in likewise selecting someone to partner with on electric fence charger production.

“As we were coming together to build the Herdsman brand, there were some strategic points we wanted to be sure to accomplish,” explains Jimmy Ogilvie, manager of TFC’s Farm Hardware Department. “Parker McCrory covered all the bases when it came to fencers. Their quality speaks for itself, and 100 percent of their products are made in America. That’s important to us and many of the farmer owners we serve. We’re proud to put the Herdsman label on the chargers they make because they’ll stand the test of time.”

There are five different Parker McCrory-produced fence chargers under the Herdsman umbrella, both solar/battery operated and AC-powered models:

• Solar 6 (#19050-1), ideal for small to medium pastures, is a 6-volt solar unit that charges up to 25 miles of fence;

• Solar 12 (#19056-1), a 12-volt solar unit that charges up to 30 miles of fence and offers low impedance for maximum power and a longer life;

• Herdsman 30DC (19051-1), a battery-operated 12-volt unit that charges up to 30 miles of fence and is ideal for livestock or predator control;

• Herdsman 30 (#19053-1), a 110-120-volt, AC-operated unit that charges up to 30 miles of single or multi-wire high-tensile fence; and

• Herdsman 50, (#19052-1), a 110-120 volt, AC-operated unit that charges up to 50 miles of single or multi-wire high-tensile fence.   

All Herdsman fencers feature a 3-year warranty that covers damage caused by lightning. The special steel housings are warranted for life against rust. If a Herdsman housing ever rusts, it will be replaced free of charge regardless of age.

Bob Shaffer, who runs a Brangus cow/calf operation at his farm in Murfreesboro, is pleased with the performance of the Herdsman 30 charger he purchased through his local Rutherford Farmers Cooperative.

“It’s a dependable charger that’s backed up with a good guarantee,” Bob says. “If you build a good product and stand behind it, you’ll be successful. All it took was one time for my cows to know not to touch the fence. It stays hot, and that’s what you want.”

After going through the numerous steps of the assembly process, every Herdsman charger undergoes comprehensive testing before being shipped out, says Parker McCrory President Dan Hummell.

“We test every charger for a minimum of 24 hours,” explains Dan, an 18-year employee of the company who succeeded his retiring father-in-law, Ken Turner, as president in June. “A charger is first tested at the component level, and once assembled it goes to a test rack. If an electronic component is going to fail, it’s generally within the first 24 hours of operation.”

Though the relationship between Herdsman and Parker McCrory began in 2011, TFC’s history with the company dates back much further. In the mid-1980s, Parmak fence chargers were marketed by TFC under the Big Ten label. That program ran for several years.

“Working with American farmers and ranchers, we know they’re looking for the highest-quality product they can get at a fair price,” Dan says. “We’ve always strived to deliver that, and we know the organizations involved with the Herdsman Brand, like Tennessee Farmers Co-op, focus on the same thing. That’s one of the many reasons we’re honored to be working with Herdsman.”

As the weather heats up each year, so too does the activity level on the Parker McCrory assembly floor.

“In the summer, we have six production lines going for our different models,” says Dan. “We’ll manufacture up to 700 chargers a day.”

The company’s customer base continues to grow — in addition to the U.S. and Canada, Parmak chargers are shipped to some 35 other countries around the world.

“Our exports to Mexico and South American countries like Chile, Ecuador, and Colombia just keeps on growing,” he says. “We’re getting into the European market primarily with our solar units. Nowadays with the web, you’re advertising to a global market so people are always

calling and asking where to find our products. It’s been really interesting.”

And when a recipe for success works, as the case has been with Parker McCrory for nearly a century, there’s no need to alter the ingredients.

“We have been the benchmark for true U.S. hand-made electric fencing,” Dan says proudly. “You’re not going down massive assembly lines seeing robots putting stuff together. The attention to detail is there, and because of this the brand loyalty is there, too.

“Your grandpa had one of our chargers, your dad did, and now you do, too. We’re proud to say we’ve served generations of farmers.”

For more information about Herdsman Brand chargers and other Herdsman fence and wire products, visit www.herdsmanbrand.com or see the professionals at your local Co-op.

 
 
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