September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

One-On-One with Brian Anderson, dairy equipment serviceman

The Dairy Star interviews ag professionals for an inside look at their careers.
Brian Anderson is a dairy equipment serviceman at Mondovi Dairy Systems in West Salem, Wis. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO SUBMITTED
Brian Anderson is a dairy equipment serviceman at Mondovi Dairy Systems in West Salem, Wis. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO SUBMITTED

What are your duties? My duties here at Mondovi Dairy store two include keeping parts inventory at the store stocked so all servicemen have access to parts. I do emergency service calls, equipment install and preventative maintenance. I also offer some technical assistance to servicemen from both stores on frequency drive and refrigeration calls.

What do you like about your job? I like the fact that we work on several different dairy applications, such as plumbing, low voltage electrical, control wiring and refrigeration. It really keeps you on your toes and never gets monotonous. I also really enjoy the customers. There is something very fulfilling about providing a service that truly helps the dairyman and the herd.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Because we cover many different dairy applications and have several service technicians, an individual technician may go weeks or months without working on a specific problem or piece of equipment. The challenge is still being able to repair or install that specific piece of equipment correctly and efficiently even though you don't necessarily work with that piece of equipment on a daily basis.

What kind of training do you have for your job? Do you have ongoing training? I started out in the industry after returning home from the military in 1996. I was only 19, and was blessed with the ability to learn on the fly. I also had an employer who was patient enough to let me learn this way. By 1998 I had proven myself to my employer, who started sending me to technical training courses offered by DeLaval, Germania and other lines of equipment. Mondovi Dairy continues to provide their customers some of the most experienced and highly trained technical professionals around by ensuring all the service technicians, chemical specialists and route and sales men are as well trained in their craft as possible.

How has the industry changed through the years? The industry has changed a lot. I believe you can equate all of the changes into two basic changes. The cow is the first change. All of the changes we have seen to the equipment such as pulsation ratios and rates, vacuum levels, shell and liner configurations, and equipment design are adjustments because of a changing animal. Through genetics, we are not milking the same dairy cow we were even a decade ago. The dairy cow is larger, makes more milk and gives her milk faster than ever before. The second change for me as a travelling service technician is distance. As the dairy cow numbers exceed what they did a decade ago in the Midwest, the number of farms has decreased. The distance we have to travel to farms and between farms increases every year. That alone is an ongoing challenge for all involved.

Tell us the about the most unique or interesting job you have done. I have been involved in so many dairy installs since 1996 all over the United States it is hard to pick out one specific dairy; however, I will say I was fascinated to learn each state's rules and regulations and how much they vary. Dairy farmers in the Midwest are held to much higher standards than other parts of the country. That comes with a cost. For example, the Midwest is not always warm or always dry. Regulations to protect milk quality such as white, tile or stainless steel walls in the parlor are not necessary in the west since it is too dry for the bacteria to grow on the wall. Out west they can leave walls bare concrete.

What is the most common problem you see on farms? It would definitely be outdated equipment. We have no problem repairing and maintaining whatever equipment they use, however as I said before, we are not milking the same dairy cow we were in the past. Just because a dairy farmer bought new equipment in 1995 and has always done his scheduled maintenance and kept the equipment in tip top shape does not necessarily mean that it is adequate for today's high producing dairy cow. The dairy farmer of today invests a lot in genetics and feed consulting to get as much milk per cow per day as possible. If the equipment cannot harvest the milk effectively and efficiently you can ultimately become counterproductive. For example, if you take an animal that could potentially give 100 pounds a day, and then use claws and takeoffs designed 20 years ago, you are setting yourself up for some herd health issues and a lot of frustration

What are some tips for farmers to prevent this problem? The test that is put before us by the National Mastitis Council nicknamed an NMC. This test will show the potential problems a dairy farmer may have. Doing this test keeps the dairy farmer and service technician from guessing. We can put together facts and data that explain it to the customer so he or she can make educated decisions on how best to invest in the health and efficient production of milk for their dairy cow. It tests everything from teat end vacuum, pulsation rate and ratio, pulsation hoses, vacuum levels, vacuum cubic feet per minute, air leaks and more. An NMC can be done in a very short amount of time and the information and knowledge you can gain is invaluable.

What is your favorite technology you have worked on? Why? My favorite technology is the refrigeration side of the business. Although it is not directly tied to the herd health side of the dairy, it is an important part of the quality of milk we get at grocery store. What I like about doing the refrigeration work is the challenge. No two farms are identical. Every dairy cooling application is different, whether it be direct load, a conventional bulk tank or a silo storage facility. You cannot do it like the last one. Every dairy is specific, and you really have to be sharp to know and understand what you are up against - from a new install or a service call on a 40-year old bulk tank.

Do you have suggestions to farmers that are looking to change milking equipment? First, do not change just to change. Make changes to update. Use resources available to you, such as your local dealership, to help you understand why an update may be necessary to continue the ongoing success of your dairy operation. The best decision anyone can make is an informed one. Knowing what may be necessary and why will make it much easier to know when and why it may be time to make that update.

How do you help farmers adapt to new equipment? The key to adapting to any change in equipment is trusting the equipment. Mondovi Dairy provides this trust by making sure the dairy farmer is informed. We want you to have an understanding of what the new equipment will bring to the table and for the customer to know how to make that happen. Trusting the dealership to help you adapt to the changes is also critical. We are there for the customer when they have a question or an issue.

Tell us about the craziest experience you have had while doing a service call or installation. When I first began in the business in 1996, most of the work I was doing was in South Dakota. DeLaval has a factory store in Watertown, S.D. That first winter of weekly drives back and forth from there to Wisconsin I saw snow drifts coming over the tops of full grown pine trees. Snow drifts 60 feet high were followed by a very soggy spring, which left much of Watertown under water. So my answer to the question is: Going into the shop by flat bottom boat to get a vacuum pump off the shelf to take out to a dairy. I was quite young and it was my first realization that the cows have to be milked no matter what. I also realized how hard the average dairy farmer works. It seems is does not matter the weather, the time, or what the dairy farmer may personally be dealing with. I was going to have to work my tail off to be at their level.

What do you like to do in your free time? What is free time? I believe I will change it to, "What do you do with your time away from work?" I am busy with a wife and four children: three sons and a daughter. I coach a youth football team, and I also help run a youth wrestling program, which all three of my boys participate in. My passion is definitely my family, spending time with them and their sports, hunting, and whatever else they get involved in. It just floors me how fast they grow.

What message would you send to dairy farmers? I would like to thank all of the farmers for all they do. They do not just get up every day and grow crops and milk cows. Farmers generate our economy. You cannot drive the roads without meeting a feed truck, route truck, veterinarian, salesman, milk truck or various other vehicles and people who are revolving around the dairy industry. I figured out a long time ago that although Mondovi Dairy Systems cuts my check, ultimately it is the dairy farmers' milk check that feeds my family. Thank you, again, on behalf of Mondovi Dairy Systems and the Anderson family.[[In-content Ad]]


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