IFN Case Study: Beck’s Hybrids

BecksSituation:

Beck’s Hybrids is the largest family-owned retail seed company in the U.S., with over 460 employees. Based in rural central Indiana, Beck’s presently has ten locations in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Iowa.

In 2008, Beck’s Hybrids was poised for rapid growth into neighboring states, and they needed to substantially to upgrade their headquarters’ telecommunications and internet capacity to keep pace.

Challenges:

Beck’s headquarters occupies the Beck family’s original homestead, in a relatively remote agricultural area. Because the area is home to few (if any) other target businesses, the largest telecommunications providers have invested very little in establishing or developing infrastructure nearby. Brad Fruth, Manager of Information Services for Beck’s Hybrids, recalls, “We were struggling to find good bandwidth in our location. The big problem is that the big Telcos don’t want to invest in these rural areas. Even when you have a company that’s growing, there are no advanced services in most of these areas. You know you’re in trouble when you’ve maxed out every bit of copper between your headquarters and your Telco’s central office and they’re telling you, ‘We can’t provide you any more services.’ Reliability was a huge problem—and cost was through the roof. We were paying ridiculous money.”

Actions:

Because IFN’s fiber optic system runs throughout Indiana and IFN is locally based, we were a natural fit for Beck’s Hybrids’ needs. We were able to tie Beck’s into IFN’s broadband infrastructure very quickly—in just a few months. Over the past six years, Beck’s and IFN have partnered to keep the expansion of Beck’s communications capabilities on pace with their highly aggressive growth strategy.

Of course, one of the keys to IFN’s success in developing a system for Beck’s has been our ability to be flexible in accommodating their budget requirements. Again from Mr. Fruth: “One of the other reasons it’s been great to work with IFN as a local independent fiber company is that we’ve been able to do some creative financing with them. They were able to work with us on a five–year financing program, and that’s what made the deal even more attractive. There is a lot of transparency with them, and that was a big factor. IFN allowed us to spread the initial construction costs over the original term, and then once we had it paid off, we still saw a huge decrease in our bill. From a business standpoint, it was easy for us to sell the program to management because there was an immediate economic impact for our company.”

A major part of Beck’s growth strategy from the outset was the expansion of their physical presence into neighboring states, in areas that are every bit as rural as their Indiana headquarters. IFN was able to add considerable value to our relationship with Beck’s by cooperating with our broad partner network. “We originally started with just a single circuit with IFN, but we’ve had this crazy growth over the last couple years,” Mr. Fruth says, “and we’ve expanded our services with IFN greatly. So one of the other things that’s extremely attractive is that we can use IFN as an agent to leverage their partners with INDATEL. We’ve been able to leverage their power to help us expand so we still get to deal with IFN, with the same people, on the same contract, even though the last leg of those circuits in Iowa, Ohio and other sites is delivered by one of their partners. That has opened a whole new opportunity for us that we’re still able to get the same services that we know and love and yet we have that regional reach.”

“It make things incredibly simple when we can just call IFN and say, I need to go to this address in Iowa, and they say, okay, we can get there through, say, Chicago, and we say, okay, I need it on the same cross–connect, and BOOM, we’re up and going.”

Results:

Beck’s Hybrids now has a physical and market presence in four additional states—with plans to continue its growth. All of their locations are connected by a reliable high–speed voice and data system, supported by IFN’s fiber network and partner network.

Brad Fruth summarizes: “IFN allows us to be very scalable in the services we can provide, and they are flexible to our business needs. IFN is a trusted partner of Beck’s Hybrids. I know they’re looking out for me and I know they’re going to do what’s in our best interest. There’s huge value in that. IFN’s local ownership and local control is huge for us—knowing that decisions aren’t being made in a corporate boardroom a thousand miles away, that they’re not just looking at the balance sheet to make decisions. I know when we go to IFN with something we want to do; they may say, that’s not a good fit for you. When they’re willing to leave money on the table to do what’s right for us, you know they’re looking out for us. There’s a true relationship of trust there.”

“We’ve been extremely happy with IFN. In this industry, you tend to get what you pay for, so there is more value in the people and in knowing how you do business, and of course being like–minded. With IFN, you know what you’re going to get.”

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