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MOORESVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Mooresville-based Equipment Technologies LLC is a farm equipment manufacturer that is feeling the effects of the supply chain disruption. The company produces Apache brand self-propelled sprayers, which are used by farmers to apply chemicals to control weeds, insects, and diseases. Just like many manufacturers, ET has had to adjust its assembly line when essential parts do not arrive on time.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Vice President of Marketing Mike Flatt said very few of the parts needed for the equipment are manufactured in-house, making the company heavily reliant on numerous parts suppliers.

“It depends on the day what the exact problem is. But yes, that we have a subset of components that are on our shortlist of troublemakers, every single week. And we monitor it every single week. Because we know we have the majority of the components,” said Flatt.

They may have the majority of parts, but not always the necessary parts to complete the assembly of the massive, four wheeled field sprayers. When that is the case, the production team assembles what it can to a point. Then parks it, much like automakers.

“That’s exactly what we do. It’s not nearly as efficient to as if you can build something start to finish,” said Flatt. “[We] allow for those components to come in. And then you come back and do a full QC (quality control assessment) but it’s less efficient. But if that’s the only way you can operate, that’s the way you’re going to operate.”

Flatt says the company, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary, is not producing at a pace that it is capable of doing, which is several hundred units a year. Unlike the major equipment makers, like Deere and Co. (NYSE: DE) or Case IH (NYSE: CNHI) or AGCO Corp. (NYSE: AGCO) that have a wide-ranging portfolio of farm equipment, Apache focuses on just the one product. He says nearly every sprayer the company is assembling is already spoken for.

“There’s very little unsold equipment sitting on a lot, or even on-order with a manufacturing. Much of what we have on order with us currently is already got a retail commitment. A lot of a major manufacturers are in similar situation to us.”

Flatt says agriculture equipment sales are a cyclical business and it is a high demand cycle right now. They have orders and labor, but not the parts and plenty of frustration.

“We want to be able to fulfill that demand, but the supply chain is not allowing us,” said Flatt. “And it’s immensely frustrating because ag is such a cyclical business. And we are in a high demand cycle right now.”

An Apache Sprayer in mid-assembly at Equipment Technologies LLC in Mooresville. (image courtesy: ET Sprayers/Mike Flatt)
Flatt says the parts challenge is not limited to microchips. A big problem is the lack of plastic clips used on wiring harnesses, they are what Flatt calls “oddball” components.

“Electrical connectors, the actual plastic pieces, the little pins that go on the end of your wires that go in your electrical connectors. There is a massive shortage on those types of things,” Flatt said.

He says Apache is sometimes forced to purchase those small, plastic, but integral, parts online and above the retail price. Then give them to partner suppliers so they can finish assembling electric devices.
“But again, what choice do we have? When those components stop coming in, the factory stops,” added Flatt.

The company has also taken the drastic step to use air freight due to the backlog and extended time frame of using shipping containers.

“We’re not talking about little bitty parts here. We’re talking about big heavy parts that we need. And when you have to airfreight those, they’re tremendously expensive to get over here. But again, they’re critical to the need to get the completed part out.”

The equipment industry as a whole is dealing with market uncertainty, stemming from supply chain disruption. The recent Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer shows the Farm Capital Investment Index drifted lower in February, down three points from January.

Tight machinery inventories continue to be a problem. In February, over 40% of producers stated that low farm machinery inventories are holding back their investment plans.

While commodity prices have improved, the costs associated with planting the spring crop have skyrocketed. Plus, the challenges associated with the supply chain and global trade are added insults.

“There is uncertainty related to policy. There’s uncertainty related to output prices and there’s uncertainty related input costs and so that’s a lot of uncertainties and so I think that’s compounding that the pessimism or relative pessimism, “ said Purdue agricultural economist Mike Langellier.

MONROVIA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group says work has begun on a more than 500,000-square-foot building at the Westpoint Business Park in Monrovia. The developer says the $40 million facility, set for completion in September, will be ideal for logistics, industrial and light manufacturing use.

Ambrose says it plans to seek LEED certification for the facility, known as Building IV, with sustainable design and construction elements, including a 100% reduction in irrigation water use, energy-efficient LED lighting, and improved indoor air quality through ventilated warehouse space.

“We’ve seen tremendous demand at Westpoint Business Park so far,” Grant Goldman, executive vice president of development for Ambrose, said in a news release. “We expect that demand to continue given the logistical advantages of its location and the green initiatives we are implementing into the building designs.”

Westpoint Business Park sits on more than 550 acres near I-70 and State Road 39 with three buildings currently completed. The first two are occupied by Love’s Truck Solutions and Deckers Brands, respectively. The third has been leased by an unknown tenant, according to Ambrose’s website.

Ultimately, Ambrose plans to build up to 10 Class-A distribution buildings ranging from 200,000 to 1 million square feet.

Many people may visit Brown County to take in the fall colors, but that’s not the only place in Indiana that has beautiful autumn views to offer. Cliff Chapman, executive director of the Central Indiana Land Trust (or CILTI), joined us today to share some other areas you may enjoy.

  1. Burnett Woods in Avon. While Hoosiers often think of driving through hilly areas for leaf peeping, Burnett Woods offers a unique option because its colors are on display in a flat wooded area. A stroll through this incredibly diverse forest provides a close-up view of the many layers and strata of colors that come from a wide range of tree species. The added bonus? It’s an easy walk, so it’s good for young kids or those with some mobility issues. One tip: Expect to encounter some road construction on the way to Burnett Woods, but don’t let that deter you from this fall color display.
  1. Blossom Hollow in Johnson County. You’ll find a more traditional, hilly leaf-peeping adventure at Blossom Hollow, but you’ll enjoy being away from the crowd. Walking through Blossom Hollow lets you experience nature’s fall display up close, especially those created by Indiana’s native hardwood trees. You’ll also mike catch a glimpse of migratory birds and nesting songbirds. Round out your outing with a stop at nearby Apple Works for apples, you-pick pumpkins and fresh-squeezed cider.
  1. Meyer Nature Preserve in Morgan County. Even the parking lot at Morgan County’s Fred and Dorothy Meyer Nature Preserve is a colorful treat, as it provides an up-close view of a magnificent black gum tree (photo attached), which serves up arguably the prettiest autumn color found in Indiana. The brilliant red leaves are even brighter than those of the beloved red maple. Heading on into the woods you’ll see more gorgeous leaves, but don’t spend all of your time looking up: Enjoy the ground-level colors from flowering plants like the blue aster, and blue-stemmed and heart-leaved goldenrod. 
  1. Fort Harrison State Park. While it’s not a CILTI preserve, we’re happy to urge people to reduce their leaf-peeping carbon footprint by visiting nearby Fort Harrison State Park. With dedicated nature preserves within its boundaries, the park give visitors amazing topography to wander, where they can enjoy the wide spectrum of colors created by a diversity of trees. With a number of trails and paved pathways, the park makes fall colors accessible to anyone, whether you’re looking for a rugged hike or a casual stroll.

MOORESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A 26-year-old man died Tuesday morning in a motorcycle crash in Morgan County, the sheriff said.

Jamie Edward Brickley II, of Mooresville, died at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet.

Witnesses and evidence showed a motorcycle and an sport-utility vehicle were traveling eastbound about 8 a.m. Tuesday on State Road 144 approaching the entrance of East Vista View Parkway, the sheriff said in a news release. The motorcycle slowed to turn north into East Vista View Parkway and was struck in the rear by the SUV.

The crash on State Road 144 was about halfway between state roads 37 and 67 in northeastern Morgan County.

The SUV driver, Kyler Connis Johnson, 19, of Mooresville, and a passenger had no complaints of injuries. Johnson was taken to Franciscan Health Mooresville hospital for a chemical test per Indiana law.

No criminal charges have been filed, but the sheriff’s department has not yet completed its investigation.

MONROVIA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group says a fashion apparel company will establish a distribution center at the Westpoint Business Park in Monrovia. California-based Deckers Brands will set up a 507,600-square-foot logistics facility for its Midwest distribution and logistics hub.

Ambrose says this is the second company to lease space at the new business park along Interstate 70 near the Hendricks County-Morgan County line. Deckers Brands joins Love’s Truck Solutions as the first two operations at Westpoint

Ambrose says it is currently working with Deckers to make their buildout energy efficient.

“Deckers is demonstrating their company values and commitment to sustainability by pursuing LEED Silver certification, and we’re proud to partner with them on that effort,” said Ambrose Executive Vice President of Development Grant Goldman.

Goldman says he expects strong demand to continue as construction moves forward on the rest of the park. Ambrose plans to break ground this June on Building III within the park, a 646,000-square-foot speculative warehouse. It will be ready for fixturing by December and be completed early next year.

Ambrose says it plans to build up to 10 Class-A distribution buildings at Westpoint Business Park, totaling more than six million square feet.

MONROVIA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group says it has completed construction of the first building at its Westpoint Business Park in Monrovia.  The developer says Oklahoma-based Love’s Truck Solutions will be the first company to locate in the Class-A logistics park southwest of Indianapolis in Morgan County.

Love’s will operate a 206,000-square-foot tire retread and distribution center at the facility.

Ambrose says it has also completed a 507,000-square-foot speculative warehouse in the 555-acre logistics park.

The company says it plans to construct up to nine Class-A distribution buildings at Westpoint Business Park.  They will range in size from 200,000-square-feet to over one million square feet.

“The past year has further proven the impact that e-commerce and logistics has in both the economy and day-to-day living for most Americans,” said Goldman. “Companies are seeking innovative industrial real estate solutions that help them meet increasingly complex demands.”

Westpoint is located at the intersection of Interstate 70 and State Road 39 and is about nine miles from Indianapolis International Airport.

WASHINGTON (WISH) — While some of the country’s biggest names were at Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden, there was also a local face behind a flag.

Seaman Ethan Prilliman graduated from Mooresville High School in 2019 and, two weeks later, headed out to boot camp. Prilliman is now stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Photo courtesy Seaman Ethan Prilliman

“We had been briefed that we were going to be part of it for a while but we didn’t know which roles we were ever going to be a part of. And, I didn’t find out I was going to be the Navy colors bearer until about two weeks ago. And, I honestly thought my buddies were just joking around with me saying that I was going to do that,” Prilliman said.

Prilliman was shocked to find out his friends were in fact not messing with him.

“When we carry the Navy flag we are representing the whole Navy when we do that. It is not just our command the ceremony of the guard, it is the Navy in general,” Prilliman said.

Prilliman holding the Navy flag outside of the Capitol (Photo courtesy Ethan Prilliman)

He was understandably nervous. “I am not going to lie; it was kind of nerve-racking knowing who all is going to be there, what we need to do, how many people are going to be watching … of course, the whole country,” he said.

The whole country included his family who he hasn’t seen in person since June.

“I am not going to lie, my mom cried,” Prilliman said. “All my family saw me on TV. My sister even had it going on at her work.”

Prilliman with his mom and dad (Photo courtesy Ethan Prilliman)

He says he did have a moment when he realized he was in the likes of the most powerful people in the country during a moment that will be written about in history books.

“When we got out there in front of everybody that is when it all hit me: ‘Oh, that is a lot of people,'” Prilliman said.

When he finally got a moment to breathe and take in the momentous occasion, he says he could feel a shift.

“You could feel a lot of positivity from it. With all the negativity that has been going on it our country, all the separation and all the friction, you just feel like people were just happy. There is change coming, and people understood that.”

While it is not something he ever thought he would do when joining the Navy, the significance of this experience is not lost on him, “I am only 20 years old and for someone to say at 20 to have been at the inauguration to represent their country and their entire branch in the military, there is not very many people who can say that.”

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced plans to speed up construction on the final stretch of I-69 in Morgan County. Beginning Saturday, nearly five miles of State Road 37 in Martinsville will be closed as crews work to finish the I-69 Finish Line project.

INDOT says the closure, which is expected to last most of 2021, will allow crews to work safer and faster. The closure, according to the agency, will also allow work to be completed a full year ahead of schedule.

An official detour has been set for the area, with north-south state highway traffic following State Roads 39, 67 and 144. Long-distance traffic is being encouraged to use alternate routes, including I-65, State Road 135 and I-70.

INDOT says several east-west roads will remain open to provide local access across State Road 37. You can learn more about the closure by clicking here.

MOORESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — David Jay anticipated additional coronavirus restrictions and wasn’t certain his Christmas tree farm would be open for business this winter.

Not only is Jay’s Tree Farm open – with masking and social distancing requirements – the family-owned business in Mooresville is generating record tree sales for early December.

“In fact, I’m going tomorrow to pick up another load,” Jay said Tuesday, adding his supplier was “really tight” on live Christmas trees due to surging demand and a nationwide tree shortage.

Approximately 25% of Americans who had artificial Christmas trees or no tree in 2019 plan to purchase a real one this year, according to the Christmas Tree Promotion Board, a promotion research organization funded by North American Christmas tree growers.

Hoosiers celebrating the end of a rough year reported putting up Christmas decorations earlier, spending more money to create home holiday cheer and carving out more time to select live trees with loved ones.

Visiting a Christmas tree farm is among the few holiday activities largely unaffected by the pandemic, Jay’s Tree Farm customers noted.

“We haven’t been around a lot of people, so it’s just nice to have fun together as a family,” said Ali Klausing, who visited Tuesday with her partner, children and pet pig.

Several vehicles were waiting to take their spot when they pulled out of the farm’s packed parking lot with a small windowsill tree.

Jay projected a 10% increase in Christmas tree sales this year, based on demand since Black Friday, but said it was difficult to predict consumer behavior during the pandemic.

“Just trying to get through this the best we can and have something positive for people,” he said.

He was silent for a moment when he considered other small business owners and farmers whose livelihoods had been devastated by the pandemic.

Seeing record sales during such challenging times “makes you humble,” Jay said quietly.

MOORESVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Mooresville Redevelopment Commission has entered into an agreement with the Mooresville Consolidated School Corp. The commission says it will make a more than $73,000 contribution to the corporation’s Agri-Science program.

“The Redevelopment Commission has been looking for ways to partner with the school to strengthen the future workforce for the Town of Mooresville and beyond,” said commission chairman Dustin Stanley. “We’re happy to have found such an opportunity and are pleased to contribute TIF funds to such a unique and diverse program.”

The program aims to enhance areas such as improvements to the greenhouse, an indoor plant lab, increased classroom technology, manipulative robots and aquaponics, among others.

“Our agriscience program is rapidly expanding and these funds will help us to incorporate resources that will not only support the curriculum but will help make the learning experience for our students truly unique,” said Dr. Jake Allen, assistant superintendent for Mooresville Schools. “The science of agriculture is extremely important to our nation, state and local economy and we are thrilled to partner with the commission to better prepare our students to contribute and even improve policies and practices in this field.”

The commission says Mooresville students in grades eight through 12 take part in agriscience programming.