By Tim Kalinowski
Hometown proud and dedicated to rural communities, Bono Holdings, based in Abbey, Saskatchewan, is an unlikely success story. Owner Brian Bonogofski says there is really no secret to that success other than being helpful, friendly and able and willing to serve his customers’ needs, whether that be in providing otherwise hard-to-get parts, backing every piece of equipment he sells with a strong service commitment or by putting his customers first.
“When you live in a small town like Abbey, it’s a long distance to some of the bigger centres. Guys here would have to travel 40-60 miles to get bearings, chains, belts and just parts in general for their equipment, if we weren’t here. I am a believer in small town Saskatchewan, and I have to stand by what I believe in,” he says.
Bonogofski says over the past 16 years he has had to continually expand his business to reflect the changing needs of local farmers, without ever losing sight of the fundamentals which got him here in the first place.
“We’ve become competitive enough over the years to be able to compete with bigger, short-line businesses. We sell all over Saskatchewan and Alberta now. Mainly in southern Alberta, but we have gone to northern Alberta as well. And all over Saskatchewan.
“When I first got started I thought if I could sell a few augers a year and a little bit of feed, and that’s good enough. Things sort of evolved from not saying no to anybody when they asked me if I could get this or that, and that’s led me to where I am today.”
Besides selling a whole raft of short-line equipment like augers, post-pounders, precision and goose-neck trailers, steel grain and fertilizer bins and Batco conveyors, Bono Holdings carries a huge inventory of parts.
“We’ve got a lot of different and unique products here you don’t find in your hardware stores in your larger centres. We also carry a good supply of parts for the equipment we sell. A lot of bigger suppliers have to order them in, and don’t carry the parts we do. We have a big selection of gear boxes, for example, and a lot of guys drive out here at harvest time to get one. It’s part of the service part we like to give to people,” says Bonogofski.
He also has two technicians on staff to assist with maintenance needs.
“We get a lot of repeat customers,” Bonogofski confirms; “which I am pretty proud of: When you have a lot repeat customers that means you have happy customers.
“ I am a believer that you put back into the community what you get out of the community. We put a lot of money back into the community, and, in return, they support us. It’s a give and take situation.”
Bonogofski says the big sellers this year will likely be trailers and Batco conveyors. He also expects augers to make a come-back after a slow year in 2016. And post-pounders are always a hot seller.
“I think the hot items are going to be goose-neck trailers and trailers in general… With Batco conveyors, there are a lot of guys growing more specialty crops these days. Those conveyors are a lot gentler on the crops so you have less dockage. They are also good for putting on fertilizer and stuff like that. And a lot of guys are using them in the field now to fill their air drills. It’s a lot faster, and their downtime in the field is lot less than what it is with a regular auger.”
Bonogofski says he is grateful to all to his customers and his community for fabulous the support he has enjoyed the past decade and a half.
“It’s grown a larger amount than I ever thought it would,” he admits. “It was the people in the community here that made me into what I am. I am grateful to all my staff, past and present. And I am very thankful for the support I get from being in rural Saskatchewan, and from my customers. These past 16 years, it’s been awesome. I grew my business, but it’s really the customers who grew me.”