The farm equipment industry has been under stress as much as farmers for the past five years and sometimes that results in financial changes and transitions. In January, 2019, Thurston Mfg. Co., Thurston, Neb., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to reorganize its business.
As July began, the company announced another step on that road to financial health with the intent to sell the Blu-Jet product line to Unverferth Mfg. Co. in Kalida, Ohio. “We’ve sold the Blu-Jet product line and all assets associated with that line,” says Nick Jensen, President, Thurston Mfg. “We are confident this move will benefit customers of both the Unverferth and BLU-JET product lines.”
Thurston’s CEO Ryan Jensen noted that the company that the product line developed over the last 48 years “transition to such a well-respected family business that will continue to build on Blu-Jet’s strong industry reputation.”
The Blu-Jet line includes fertilizer application and side-dress equipment, tillage tools, trench and track fillers and implement caddies. The business started, like many shortline firms, with one person – Wayne Jensen – tinkering with ideas or seeking solutions to farm problems. From those early ideas grew Thurston Mfg., continuing an innovative heritage.
“Blu-Jet products will expand our current offerings in fertilizer application and tillage products, and bring wider variety of quality implements to offer agricultural producers and suppliers across North America,” says Larry Unverferth, president, Unverferth. “As with other lines we have brought into the Unverferth product family, we envision continuing with the Blu-Jet brand and its strong heritage that has been built and nurtured by the Jensen family.”
Unverferth manufactures a wide variety of tillage products, grain and seed handling equipment, pull-type sprayers and wheels. The acquired lines include Brent, Killbros and Parker ,and Top-Air sprayers
The way forward
While the Blu-Jet line will move on, Thurston Mfg. has other products in its line, and this move provides flexibility to perhaps seek other business in different industries. The aim for Thurston is to explore opportunities to keep the facility working once the BLU-JET line is transitioned. The Jensen family looks forward to sharing news on that at some point in the future..
In the release announcing the move, Unverferth and Thurston “encourage all Blu-Jet customers to continue to work with their Blu-Jet retailers during this transition.” The companies will work to provide uninterrupted product manufacturing and service during this transition.
The intended sale is subject to approval of the bankruptcy court. During the transition, farmers can still catch up on the latest innovations from Blu-Jet in exhibits at the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days.
Both shortline manufacturers are known for their innovations. Unverferth opened in 1948. Thurston was incorporated in 1971. The transaction is being facilitated by Tim Meyer, CEO of the investment banking firm Equity Advisors.