Meeting Big-Company Demands in a Rural Location: Beck’s Hybrids

Case Study

Beck’s Hybrids is the largest family-owned retail seed company in the U.S., with employees in 10 Midwest locations. Beck’s headquarters occupies the Beck family’s original homestead in Indiana, in a relatively remote agricultural area that large telecommunications providers have ignored.

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

“We were struggling to find good bandwidth. The big telcos don’t want to invest in these rural areas,” said Brad Fruth, Manager of Information Services for Beck’s Hybrids. “Even for 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.”

Because IFN’s fiber optic system runs throughout Indiana, we were a natural fit for Beck’s Hybrids’ needs. We tied Beck’s into IFN’s broadband infrastructure very quickly—in just a few months. Beck’s and IFN have continued to partner to keep Beck’s communications capabilities on pace with its highly aggressive growth strategy.

One of the keys to IFN’s success with Beck’s has been our ability to accommodate its budget requirements. “IFN was able to work with us on a five–year financing program, and that’s what made the deal even more attractive,” said Fruth. “There is a lot of transparency with IFN, 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 was the expansion of its 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 started with just a single circuit with IFN, but we’ve had this crazy growth over the last couple years, so we’ve expanded our services with IFN greatly,” Fruth said. “It’s extremely attractive that we can use IFN as an agent to leverage their partners with INDATEL. We still 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. We get the same services we know and love, and yet we have that regional reach. It makes things incredibly simple. 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. We say we need it on the same cross–connect, and boom, we’re up and going.”

Beck’s locations are all connected by a reliable high–speed voice and data system, supported by IFN’s fiber network and partner network.

Fruth said, “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. 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. When we go to IFN with something, 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.”

“We’ve been extremely happy with IFN,” Fruth said. And IFN is proud to play a part in Beck’s continuing success.