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Buhler Industries Entering Combine Market

I would like to see the next 100,000 before I retire, said a smiling Dmitry Lyubimov, who became president of Buhler Industries when the Russian combine manufacturer Rostselmash bought a majority stake from Manitoba entrepreneur John Buhler in 2007.

The company, which has been shipping the Canadian-made tractors to Russia since the acquisition, is now planning to bring Russianmade combines to Canada, likely under the Versatile brand.

We understand it is going to be very difficult because the market is very competitive, but we will try, said Lyubimov. A new Class 8 combine has undergone two years of testing in Canada and the U.S. using a variety of cereal crops, with a few updates made along the way.

The combines are very good quality and overall they performed very well, he said.

The president noted different preferences between North American and Russian farmers regarding some elements of cab design and comfort, which accounted for most design changes.

Versatile will also introduce in 2012 its iT4 line of high-horsepower tractors designed to meet stricter environmental standards. Meeting the progressively tighter Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards has been a challenge for North American manufacturers.

I m a believer now quite frankly, said product manager Ryan Shust. I ll tell you that when we started the tractor up for the first time in the shop there was no smell of diesel and it was quiet. I was a believer at that point.

Overcoming the skeptics, Versatile designers achieved lower emissions without using urea, or diesel exhaust fluid.

The two things that replace urea in this case are EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) and DPF (diesel particle filter) in place of a muffler. The EGR reburns gas to clean it further, so it double cleans it, and the DPF filters out any particles that go beyond that stage, explained Shust.

He added using highly efficient Cummins engines, which use selective catalytic reduction by continually injecting fuel, made this possible.

Although Tier 4 tractors keep Versatile s framing and power-chain, they also feature a refreshed look and updated cab. A sloped hood increases visibility by 35 per cent, while the cab is larger with more ergonomic controls. Power-shift transmissions from CAT are also available.

Since changing ownership in 2007, Versatile has seen significant development through the acquisition of tillage and self-propelled sprayer lines. But Lyubimov says new acquisitions are unlikely in the short term.

I think we have already built a full line for big farms, so I would say we don t need something else right now, he said. There were some very good deals a couple years ago, but right now there is nothing cheap out there, so I don t expect we will make any new acquisitions in the next few years.

Turnout at the Winnipeg launch of the new Versatile line was strong, with approximately 200 dealers and farmers on hand to check out the tractors and later see the factory.

Among them was Rod Bracelin of Kansas, purchaser of the 100,000th Versatile to leave the Winnipeg factory.

I used to be a banker and when I retired out of the bank, I went into farming with my brother. That was back in 87, so I ve been farming since then. he said after receiving the keys to the tractor. I d say we ve owned about 20 Versatiles since then.

Bracelin brought his son and grandson along for the trip, as well.

I m really excited to be here, it s the first time I ve ever been in Canada and coming to the factory to pick up this new tractor is just amazing to me, he said.

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The 100,000th Versatile tractor rolled off the line at Buhler Industries this month, a historic event for Canada s only farm tractor manufacturer.

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I ll tell you that when we started the tractor up for the first time in the shop there was no smell of diesel and it was quiet. I was a believer at that point.

RYAN SHUST

Versatile product manager

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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