Great Plains Communications is proud to highlight another one of our business customers, Paulman Farms out of Sutherland, NE.
Paulman Farms is located in Sutherland in southwestern Nebraska, where Roric Paulman, his wife Deb and their son Zachary, farm nearly 5,000 acres. About 85 percent of the land is irrigated, and the annual cropping rotations include corn, popcorn, dry edible beans, soybeans, winter wheat and sugar beets. In its 40-year history, this family farm has weathered its share of storms, yet an innovative spirit keeps everything growing.
Farm Crisis and Family Crisis
Clearly the most difficult period for Paulman Farms occurred in the 1980s during the farm crisis, when thousands of families lost their farms because of low prices and overwhelming debt. Roric Paulman’s father had encouraged him to get career experience off the farm before joining the operation, which is why Roric and Deb Paulman were working in Omaha in 1985 when Roric’s father called and asked him to come back. Six months later, his father died. The 27-year-old and his wife faced a daunting list of challenges, including bankruptcy, at Paulman Farms that year. But they didn’t do it alone. They took a collaborative approach, assembling a team of advisors including an attorney, accountant and bankers, as well as meeting with the farm’s original landowners for support. While equipment had to be sold and land turned over to Farm Credit, Paulman Farms managed to begin a new chapter in what would ultimately become a tremendous success story. Today, the family owns all of the land it lost in the 1980s, and Paulman Farms has grown to become a $10 million business named as a 2015 finalist for Top Producer of the Year.
Doing More With Technology
In addition to collaboration, the use of technology has enabled Paulman Farms to meet and overcome challenges. This currently includes irrigation water and soil monitoring tools, precision farming equipment and new seed technologies. Roric Paulman notes, “Paulman Farms is a large farming operation, spread over a radius of approximately 26 miles. The low unemployment rate in Nebraska makes it difficult to find enough qualified people to work for us. So part of the answer is to use larger equipment and more technology to increase how much can be done with fewer people. We take advantage of technology such as cloud-based services and remote monitoring that sends alerts when something needs attention. We’re currently working on a system for real-time harvest, which instantly knows the inventory, yields and moisture content. Before using this system, data like this would only be available to us later. It’s a huge deal.”
Fiber Speeds Up Internet Connection
To take advantage of technology for improved cost-effectiveness and productivity, Paulman Farms needs substantial Internet service, which it gets from Great Plains Communications along with phone lines. “We recently upgraded to fiber for our Internet connection at Paulman Farms. We contracted with Great Plains Communications to put fiber in our area; they did the trenching and installation. This work was completed in 2015, and now with fiber, we get 20 Mbps/20 Mbps Internet speeds. Before fiber was installed, we were only able to get 8.5 Mbps/.6 Mbps. Besides being much faster, the fiber-based Internet from Great Plains Communications is also more reliable,” says Paulman. He adds, “We are generating tons of site-specific data in our farming operation, and the data piece is key to making better decisions. The other thing that’s important is maintaining efficient communication with our employees, agronomists, seed corn people and others. Our phone and Internet services from Great Plains Communications help make it all possible.” What does Paulman Farms appreciate most about Great Plains Communications? Paulman replies, “Great Plains Communications still has a live body in our community, which is not true of other communications providers. As a result, the customer service we receive is better; it’s top notch. What’s more, Great Plains Communications has the pulse of this community, and they contribute to making it better.
I appreciate the fact that Great Plains Communications helps businesses in rural areas get the technology they need not just to survive, but to thrive and grow.” It’s a philosophy that’s echoed in words Roric Paulman lives by: “If you want your community and your state to be a better place, you have to give your time to make it happen.”