Chem-Man Online’s Regina Farmer recalls a story by Buck and Patsy Everett of Penrose Flying ServiceRead More
I’ve always loved technology and the thought of reducing paperwork in an industry that requires so much documentation is exciting to me. I’m very familiar with the progression of media. I wrote our software program “Chem-Man” in DOS where we used the large floppy disks. We then progressed to 3.5 floppies, CDs, SD cards, Zip drives and the awesome USB drive. Now with the evolution of the need for mobility and the internet, even USB drives are considered outdated. The time for an easy streamlined solution is now.
Several months back Anthony Fay and David Dewil of Insero Solutions dropped by our office in Jonesboro to show us their Ipad GPS system. In explaining their product, Anthony Fay stated “AgPilotX is the first GPS system in the industry to capitalize on the power of an Apple device. Connecting to the internet and email could not be easier. We can send files from the plane to Chem-man effortlessly. You can even run apps like ‘ForeFlight’ and ‘My Radar’ on the AgPilotX”.
We talked about how outdated our industry has been in multiple areas. Including uploading shape files to the GPS, downloading the applied log information from the GPS for display and having to handwrite documentation about weather, tach, pilot, date applied, etc.
Both companies quickly worked on the ability to load both programs on the Ipad GPS system and getting the Shape files to easily load into the AgpilotX. Now by clicking on a button in the Chem-Man program wirelessly it automatically displays the shape files in the AgpilotX. Chem-Man also worked on getting the AgPilotX’s spray pattern easily uploaded into their software with the optional ability to match it to a job. Currently this has to be done via email but a quick synchronization is the goal.
After talking to owner of Insero, Greg Guyette, we both agreed that a “Beta” customer would be the key in working toward the best wireless solution. They chose “Ag Air Inc.” in Scott MS who were mutual customers of both companies and one of the first customers of the AgPilotX. I talked to owner Gordon Boozer and son Corey who said they are very pleased to be the Beta testers and have been pleased with what they’ve seen in both programs so far.
I also talked to Anthonie York with the Transland Company who recently bought out the Satloc GPS division from Ag Junction. He said he also wanted to update the G4 systems and work on a wireless transmission of data. He plans on hiring extra developers to make this happen. I have no doubt that as we all work out the details, all of our GPS companies will strive to make this happen.
The stage for complete synchronization is very early but the goal in my view is to save the ag operator from having to document any information that can be done wirelessly. This includes documenting the pilot, weather, tach info, applied gps data, etc.
The ultimate goal is for our pilots to be safe and have the ability to focus on what they’re trained and paid to do. Having fewer things in the cockpit is also a plus. Taking time out for documentation of course is a necessary evil. Hopefully soon that will be a lot easier!
Ready to take the plunge? Click the button below to subscribe to Chem-Man Onlne today & don’t forget to check out AgPilot X.
Another one in the books! We had a great time at the 2018 National Ag Aviation Association convention in Reno, Nevada.
We had new giveaways to hand out, old friends to see, and new features in Chem-Man Online to talk about. We met lots of new friends and even picked up some new customers, so we thought that we’d share some of our favorite pictures!
The post below was taken from an article that Regina wrote for the September 2018 issue of Ag Air Update. Regina is a regular contributer to Ag Air Update and other industry resources. You can read more from her under “Regina’s Perspective”.
After working in the ag industry for over 26 years now, many people have often asked me about my last name “Farmer” and if I changed it to coordinate with my business. I have laughed it off multiple times stating that my husband is a retired Union Pacific railroad worker but happens to have a great name for my business. I also continue to get asked about how I got started with the “Chem-Man” software for my career so I thought I’d share.
I graduated from ASU in Jonesboro AR with a degree in “Business Data Processing” (now considered Computer Science). Computers were “The thing of the future”. I have always loved technology and I wanted to be a part of it. I have written hundreds of custom programs for businesses but the one that really took off was “Chem-Man”.
Years ago I was approached by a local ground rig operator in my hometown of Wynne, AR and I wrote him a customized program in “DOS” which was the operating system of the early days (the big floppy disk and all). Before you knew it the word got out and after some tweaking with the help of local ag pilot J.R. Cartillar, I sold the same program to around 6 local crop dusting operations. After getting a friend to help out with some graphics, “Chem-Man” was born.
Some people ask “Why not Chem-Woman since you are a woman”? Although the original logo displayed a male ag-pilot, chem-man actually stands for “chemical management”. We recently updated our logo and the male ag-pilot has been retired but he’ll always have a place in my heart.
After I started advertising in the former “Ag Pilot” magazine, I started getting calls from all around the U.S. as well as Canada. Now I’m proud to advertise in the Ag Air Update which helps us advertise internationally. This shows how far our industry has come. I still laugh at the first convention in Arkansas that I attended because my display consisted of a dot matrix printout that read “Chem-Man” along with my big bulky computer. (We’ve come a long way since then). My husband and I traveled around to tell the ag operations about our new software program.
Customer support is always important when you’re working with customers. However in the early days there were no cell phones and you were pretty much stuck in your office so you could be close to the phone. There was also no internet so if you needed to review the customer data you had to get the customer to mail in their floppy disk which often would get corrupted in the mail! Boy have things gotten better along the way!
One thing that I find interesting is that I have seen many of my original customers retire and am working with their grandkids! (Boy do I feel old).
As technology changes, software must keep up. Throughout the years we’ve updated from our DOS operating systems and floppy disks to what is now an online system that allows the user to login from anywhere. It has also allowed us to incorporate mapping and GPS integration to the invoicing program.
Since our company has grown I have been able to travel with my now retired husband and visit many of our customers onsite. What a gift this has been! Actually meeting so many of the people that you’ve been talking to on the phone is great! Also seeing the work flow has been so helpful in learning how to adjust for individual needs and requests.
Due to the varied needs around the country, we are still continuously updating and enhancing. Instead of only attending the local state conventions, I try to make as many as possible around the nation.
One thing that I find fascinating is that I’m often recognized from social media. Social media (such as Facebook) has helped me become even closer to many of my customers, learning about their family life and hobbies.
One of the hardest thing about this industry is seeing how dangerous the profession is. I’ve lost so many friends, young and old and that will never get easy. I hope that our industry can work on somehow being a safer place to work. I have talked to so many friends, widows and mothers who have lost loved ones and they say it’s something that stays with them all of the time.
Throughout the years our company has grown from a staff of two to now a staff of 7! That’s not including hubby Jerry who works for free thanks heavens!
Some people have mentioned “Do you ever think of slowing down”? I can’t imagine. As I was driving in to work this morning I saw an ag plane flying above the field next to me. I thought what a beautiful image these planes are flying in the air like a bird. I couldn’t be more thankful to be a part of such a great industry.
I wanted to take this time to say “Thank you” to everyone who has allowed me to be a part of your profession.
(In the words of Regina Farmer)
“So who is the Chem-Man?” This is a question that I’ve gotten a lot over the years. “Shouldn’t it be Chem-WO-man?” many say with a slight grin. I usually laugh it off and tell them that it really stands for “Chemical Managment Software”. That’s not a lie, but it’s not the whole story.
The story of “Chem-Man” is a little more complicated than that...
A programmer by trade but a businesswoman and marketing agent by heart, I was looking for a software package that I could resell. I had worked as a programmer for other people but wanted to make it on my own. I grew up in a family-owned retail store and so I wrote a complete book-keeping package including accounts receivable, payroll, accounts payable, payroll, checking and general ledger. These were the days of “DOS”, so I kept it simple and it worked well for them. I was working on software for an optometrist when Donnie and Sharon Forrester walked through my door. They needed a custom software package for their Agricultural Aviation Business and I wanted to write a specialty package to market, so it was a natural partnership. The program worked well for them and word got around. A local crop-duster, J.R. Cartillar dropped in and helped me enhance the software to work for more operators. Our area is a farming community and there were six local crop dusting businesses that eventually decided to use Chem-Man.
After seeing the difference that it made to their day-to-day operations, I decided that Chem-Man would be the package that I'd been looking for. A friend of mine, Tony McMickle, helped me create the graphics and build a manual to get me started. I also had hired a friend, Lynn Lace, who helped me work on building the software. We advertised in the "Ag Pilot" magazine and business started to pick up. We also decided to go to our first ag-pilot convention in Arkansas. I knew nothing about these conventions and just printed a dot matrix sign "Chem-Man" and displayed it on our booth along with my big bulky computer. I still laugh at my inexperience but it makes you realize how far you've come.
When I look back at those days, I think of all of the great experiences that I've had and all of the great people that I've met. Our company is growing and has sold many Chem-Man packages, Dos, Desktop and, now, Online.
John Farris joined me in 2014 as a business partner and the sky is the limit for Chem-Man! Our online software includes mapping, gps files, variable rating, inventory, loader reports, billing, commissions, reports, and many other features. We've got a staff of 15 and growing. It's very exciting times!
I saw Donnie the other day at a restaurant and took his pic. I told him how the company has grown and how he had helped me get started. He laughed and said "Ok, where are my royalty fees?" Gotta love him.
You never know when you'll need to access your Chem-Man Online Software. Out in the field, in the store, at the co-op, date night, while on vacation, sitting in the "deer-woods" or while watching the game. In fact, these days you no longer have to be in the office to work, you can do it anywhere.Read More
We recently had a conversation with Herve Marchadier and he talked to us about the Ag-Aviation field. Herve had some advice to pass on to new pilots and we wanted to give it to you in his own words
"I don't know if we have any rookies or guys looking to break out soon in this group, but this is something I compiled this last corn run. If this helps anyone, I'm happy. I'm not a super-experienced ag pilot, but over my career I've put together some advice I would pass along to a new pilot getting his first seat. Some of these are words of wisdom passed to me, while others are my own observations.
I wrote this because as someone who has only been in the aerial application industry for four years, I'm familiar with the struggles some people have in finding that first seat. I wanted to let new and aspiring pilots know that there is more to this field than simply flying an airplane. I was also thinking that older pilots and operators would see it and add their own pieces of advice. I focused primarily on the flying/application side of it, but I also wanted to touch on the impact we have in our communities.
We're getting new blood in this industry, and the operators for whom they fly have a ton of information to give to them. At the same time, the younger pilots and crew bring their own insights as well. It's important (literally life-and-death important) for a young pilot to listen and pay attention to the lessons and advice of the older generation, but also for the older generation to listen to, and encourage input from, the newer pilots, as that will aid in their development as the future of our industry.
There are things in here that some will disagree with, and there are some that do not apply to others. I think that overall it isn't bad as far as free advice goes.
First of all, congratulations on getting a seat! You're about to start one of the most exciting and dynamic careers in the aviation industry. There are some things that you want to keep in mind, however, due to the nature of the work. The job includes risk, but these risks can be mitigated if addressed properly. Sometimes it's hard for a young guy to really understand things from an older person's perspective, and vice versa.
The advice listed is not all inclusive, but I think it's a good start.
- Do not expect to set any production records your first year. Your job during your first season is to learn the basics and survive to fly a second season. Your operator is probably not expecting to make much money from you and he is hoping you will be able to apply those early lessons learned in the future.
- You will make mistakes. The operator that I fly for has been an aerial applicator for forty years and he still makes mistakes, so why would you be any different? This leads to the next point.
- When you make a mistake, own it. No one is perfect. Learn from it, get back to it, and, if possible, try to make it right. Never, under any circumstance, lie.
- Speed and efficiency come with time. If your turns seem like they take a long time at first, that's fine. I've never seen a field run away while turning.
- I do not care if you did spray that field or one right next to it recently. Circle it anyway before you dive in.
- You may hear some of the older hands talk about how fast they turn/slow they fly/etc. Some of it may even be true. You are not there yet. Fly safely. On a related note, old hands, be careful about what you say in your bull sessions around the rookies. They may feel like they have your skill and experience. Also, you can tell them until you are blue in the face how you want them to fly, but you lead by example. This can be good or bad, so choose wisely.
- A pole near an abandoned farm place is something you want to be cautious around. Make darned sure there is not a wire before you go diving near it.
- If you think you can go under a wire, you can not. Be certain you can, and be cognizant of what's on the other side of the wire.
- If you have to make two trim passes, then make two trim passes.
- Keep your pride on a leash. Just because you have a hopper that can hold "x" number of gallons that does not mean you have an airplane that will fly with that much load, especially when the temperature and humidity are high.
- Be mindful of your limitations and those of your airplane. The laws of physics are not negotiable.
- Pushing your limits should be done by nudges rather than shoves.
- You will never kill every big/weed/etc. out there. Trying to do so will likely lead you into some situations you would rather avoid.
- No one's crops are worth killing yourself over.
- I cannot speak for everyone, but I would respect a man a lot more for saying they were uncomfortable with a situation than if they were to try to be a hero and push through it. Sometimes a bit of advice from an older pilot or operator is all you need.
- Drink water. Lots of it.
- I keep a bottle of water in the airplane with me separate from my drinking water. Getting some of this stuff in your eye burns like hell, and you do not have someone else in the airplane to fly for you.
- Fatigue can scare/hurt/kill you. The same goes for complacency and arrogance.
- Your boss is more nervous than you are when you take your first load out.
- You are not too good to sweep a floor.
- Especially if you work somewhere other than your hometown, be a good guest wherever you are. Open doors for ladies, say "sir" and "ma'am" often, and remember "please" and "thank you."
- Do not stop flying the airplane until all the pieces come to a halt. You can get scared afterward.
- If I knew I was not going to crash, I would not wear a helmet. Since I do not have the ability to predict the future, I wear one.
- Your boss is taking a huge chance on breaking you out. Respect that, respect them, and be loyal. Even if you only work for them a little while, this is a small community. Reputations stick.
- Good things come to good people. If you do quality work, maintain your integrity, and keep striving for better, you will go far. You probably will not make a lot of money your first few years, but it will pay off in the end."
Do you have advice to give new and aspiring pilots? Send it to us!
Herve Marchadier was born in Louisville, Kentucky and was raised south of Birmingham, AL. He flies for Quality Spraying Service in Iowa.
We often tell people that one of our favorite things about our work is to be out in the "Field" meeting people.We were at 5 different Ag Aviator & Applicator conventions in November and December alone, including the National Convention in Savannah. We got to meet with hundreds of people and hold classes for people who were interested in or using our product.
2016 is starting off with a bang and in January we will be in 8(yep... you read that right- EIGHT!) different states to host convention booths. That means that it highly likely that we will be near you! Come see us! If you aren't coming to a convention but would like to talk to us about Chem-Man, simply contact us and we'll schedule a time to visit, through webinar or in person.
You can see a list of our travels by going here: Chem-Man On the Road
See you in 2016!