The growth and evolution of a Minnesota family farm has included the addition of the latest in GPS technology, the switch to harvesting only corn and soybeans and the conversion to doors from Schweiss Doors on the storage buildings.
Sullivan Family Farms of Franklin, Minn., first settled in the early 1900s, is headed up by Mike Sullivan, with help from his wife, Jane, and three sons, Tim, Joe and Pat. In the 1960s, Mike raised hogs and grew peas on his farm. Today, with the help of four full-time employees plus seasonal employees, the Sullivan farm produces corn and soybeans.
“The boys have gone to a lot of decision planning seminars to keep them up to date on the latest farming developments,” says Mike Sullivan. “Tim is basically head of the office. He takes care of paying the bills and doing all the paperwork that needs to be done every day. Pat is the shop manager, taking care of all the help and making sure all the equipment is ready to go and anything that needs to be done from day-to-day. Joe is kind of the overseer of all the precision and GPS technology to make sure that works. He also works with Pat and Tim when needed. The boys all kind of take orders from each other.
Sullivan Farms got its first Schweiss door about 20 years ago and have added four more since. One is a 36-foot, 10-inch x 17-foot, 6-inch hydraulic door. The bifold liftstrap doors range in size from two measuring 44-feet, 7-inch x 18-feet, 6-inch to a 39-foot, 8-inch x 15-foot, 6-inch door and a 26-foot, 6-inch x 15-foot, 4-inch door. The very first bifold door was eventually converted from cables to liftstraps. The one Quonset building was the first structure to be fitted with liftstraps. Sliding doors were all replaced with Schweiss bifold doors.
The doors also have a multi-channel master remote system so they can open and close each door from the same handheld remote; the Sullivans simply select which door they want opened from the cab of the tractor, combine or pickup.
The hydraulic door is used mainly for moving diggers in and out and to open up the east sidewall of the building. They like how it seals up nice and another benefit is the hydraulic pump was mounted up above the floor out of the way. “We have a Schweiss hydraulic door, but prefer the bifold doors,” Mike says. “We got the hydraulic door on the east sidewall when we converted the building next door to a shop that had sliders on it. We didn’t want to lose any headroom, we wanted to stay 18 feet clear. The same building has the 47-foot, 7-inch wide x 18-foot, 6-inch bifold door on the south side.”
“When we built the east 80 x 150-foot building, we had two bids,” Joe Sullivan says. “The one who wouldn’t put a Schweiss door on our building didn’t get the job. The family has known Mike Schweiss forever and we don’t even look at anyone else. Schweiss’ customer service and reliability is second to none; Schweiss gets things done.”
Mike Sullivan concurred. “Dependability has been excellent, quality has been great, service has been excellent,” he says. “We have five doors and have been satisfied ever since we purchased the first door. That’s why we keep coming back to Schweiss. The doors have made things a lot easier.”
Tim and Joe said they are impressed with the new Schweiss high R-value interlocking insulated paneling on the big shop door. “The new insulated panels are way better than foam insulation and skin on the inside of the door,” Pat Sullivan says.
“The panels go way up to the top of the door and won’t break off like foam insulation,” added Tim Sullivan.
“We also have the new Schweiss (strap latch) locking system on this door; the door is always tight,” Pat Sullivan says. “There are zero cables now and it has two benefits. When the door is all the way up and it’s windy it keeps the door against the track. The other thing I like is it has two roller bearings on each side instead of one to spread the weight around. The nice thing about the bifold straps on our doors is they go up and down much faster. You don’t get any of the cable stretch or wear.
When they were trying to decide what size new door to put on the south side of the shop they were thinking of raising the shop 6 feet to give additional headroom. Mike Schweiss talked them out of that expensive endeavor which would have also resulted in downtime for the building use, and now they are glad they didn’t do that.
Tim said that Mike Schweiss offered some useful advice on the new building noting they should allow some room on the sides for storage on the inside of the building.
Over the years they have recommended Schweiss doors to others and have shown them to many people visiting the farm.