Dawn Equipment of Sycamore, Ill., announced June 1 that sales of several of its product lines will now be sold through SurePoint Ag Systems of Atwood, Kan. This includes its Screw-Adjust Trashwheels, Coulter attachments and Closing Wheels. Dawn said it will still offer support, service and parts for products sold prior to June 1, 2023.
At the same time, Dawn Equipment also said it will be shifting to offer complete implements and individual units in the strip-till and cover crop markets as well as other low-impact, ground-engaging products. These had formerly been marketed as the Underground Agriculture brand.
The transition will connect in some capacity to John Deere’s business. In March of last year, Deere announced it had entered into a joint venture with SureFire Ag Systems, renaming it SurePoint Ag Systems and giving it access to select Deere technologies. Deere’s annual 10-K SEC filing referred to the joint venture as Deere acquiring an 80% stake in SurePoint. Regarding the future of these product lines, John Deere said in a June 14 statement to Ag Equipment Intelligence that, “While all John Deere dealers will have access to sell these products, this is not an exclusive arrangement.” Deere declined to detail its relationship with Dawn Equipment outside this product transition.
Dawn Equipment President Joe Bassett told Ag Equipment Intelligence that not all the details had been confirmed, but Dawn Equipment would continue to manufacture the product lines in question at its Sycamore, Ill., plant for the time being, and they will become branded as SurePoint Ag products. He confirmed Dawn Equipment’s strip-till equipment business remains separate from the product transition with SurePoint Ag and it will still utilize some of the transitioned product lines’ technology in that strip-till equipment business.
Dawn’s Future. The shift to full-size implement production has been on Dawn’s radar for a few years. In a March 2021 interview with Ag Equipment Intelligence, Bassett forecast a decline in the mid-sized ag equipment manufacturer market as well as the attachment market. At the time, Dawn Equipment was in the process of adding manufacturing capacity for its full-size implements at a facility in South Milwaukee, Wis.
“The aftermarket era, where growers assemble a lot of aftermarket options to customize their planters, I think is over,” Bassett said at the time. “It’s gotten to be too much. There are too many gadgets. By the time you attach everything, the only thing left of the original planter is a couple pieces of metal. So we said, ‘Why don’t we just replace that too and make it a complete solution?’”
Bassett forecast a pivot in Dawn Equipment toward complete solutions that would have them competing against the industry’s top players, which he viewed as a positive.
“We’ve always been the underdog, and to a certain extent, it’s good to be the underdog,” he said. “You’re always striving. And once you get somewhere, you’re able to choose who you’re competing against. And now we’re choosing to be the underdog in a bigger business. Even if we capture a tiny portion of the market, it could grow the business dramatically.”
Today, Bassett sees SurePoint Ag selling these planter attachments as the fruition of Dawn’s vision, allowing them to be integrated into one operating system. The transition allows Dawn to offer more value to its customers and have a “much better chance” at competing against other product lines.
“This transition will allow an entire ecosystem of products to exist with one single row unit controller, one single user interface, one single operating system,” he said. “That’s the battle we fought — you’ve got downforce product here, row cleaner product here, fertilizer product there. There’s the proverbial farmer with 10 screens in his cab, each one doing a different thing on a different product. That’s not the way of the future, especially as these products are automation products that have data collection.”
Bassett hopes Dawn Equipment will realize 20% margin on future sales of its strip-till bar units, the Black Dawn One, where it will focus on implements in the 24-30 row range.