Carl Hobbs and his brother Leo were working for a potato farmer in Blackfoot when they decided they were tired of digging potatoes out of the ground.
“That winter we was shoveling the potatoes out by hand,” Carl Hobbs, co-founder of Spudnik, said. “My brother and I shoveled 60,000 sacks of potatoes into the hopper.”
They founded Spudnik Equipment Company in 1958, creating farming equipment that has made harvesting potatoes easier. It’s been 60 years since then, and the company is still growing. They currently employ around 300 people in the Blackfoot area and have other factories around the country. They attribute their success to their customer service.
“You know, anybody can sell a product, but if it’s not taken care of and serviced, you know, during those times,” Corey Steidley, Sales Director for Spudnik, said. “Our farmers work 24 hours a day during harvest and planting and so we have to be there available for them.”
The company is worldwide, with customers in countries such as Germany, New Zealand and China. Spudnik and its customers work together to create new equipment that fits the customer’s needs.
“Our customers are coming to us, asking us to help make their labor more efficient,” Steidley said. “Not as much reduce labor, but make the labor that they have efficient, more automation, more technology”
After 45 years, Hobbs sold Spudnik to the GRIMME GROUP in Germany in 2003. While Hobbs knew he could no longer stay in the business, he’s proud of where the company has gone in its 60 years.
“My proudest moment was from the time we built it til I sold out,” Hobbs said. “And I’m still proud of it because we couldn’t have found a better person in the whole world to take it over and we did.”
The potato piler and potato scooper Hobbs created are still used as the basic designs for the equipment the company makes today. They’ve also gotten into other vegetables such as beets, carrots and onions.