Arrowquip Stockyard Review

On delivery, my man gates didn’t open, my stock gate slam latches didn’t latch, and my budflow gate didn’t even fit the gate opening.

What’s the story?

I’m in southern Tasmania, on 440 acres, running (at time of writing) 130 head. This is what happened when I bought Arrowquip stockyards. The short story is that Arrowquip probably won’t be asking me for an Arrowquip customer testimonial.

Just the facts, ma’am:

I paid approx $62,000 for a modified 140 head breeder budflow yard, crush (Q-Catch Mark II Dual Xtreme), Q-gate, and calf table, on July 14, 2020. The call came from the local Nutrien store that they were ready to deliver in mid-September. I started assembly late September. The yards are still not complete at time of writing (December 17-20th) as I’m waiting on missing and replacement parts. 

What went right?

I’m yet to put cattle through an Arrowquip crush, but the crush itself – as opposed to the other yard components – looks to be spot-on, well-made, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what a difference it makes to the job of managing cattle. (UPDATE – the offside crush arrived December 23rd and seems to ‘feature’ some of the issues that the yard gates suffer from – see following video which I’ve forwarded to my local contact).

My local Arrowquip agent is the Southern Territory manager, and he’s been great to work with. He came onsite and walked over a couple of possible sites with me, discussed the pros and cons, and has been proactive about resolving issues, including spending time on-site checking things out, assisting with assembly, and coming up with workarounds.

Having started pegging out the site I realised that it would be better suited to a yard which was ‘mirrored’ in orientation. The territory manager provided good advice and support on achieving this (including arranging to swap the crush for an ‘offside’ crush with the controls on the other side, and swapping the budflow force gate controls to allow it to work in reverse). As mentioned above, now that the offside crush has arrived, its apparent faults have detracted from the otherwise painless experience of having this swapped.

The original delivery ran pretty much to schedule.

What went wrong?

Budflow issues

Arrowquip’s “budflow” is a circular force yard designed to easily move cattle down the race.

  • Large strike plate for the budflow back gate was missing, so it couldn’t latch.
  • There was no way of attaching the budflow back gate, or the budflow force gate, to the hinges – holes had not been drilled.
  • The local rep drilled the holes and we swung the gate, but the gate itself was too narrow for the budflow and was nowhere near reaching the strike plate (even when it arrived) – it appeared we were working with parts from two different models.
  • The ‘hoop’ that connects the budflow to the race could not be bolted on – holes were misaligned and/or on incorrect faces of the steel – it looked as though parts had been welded in the wrong position.
  • The budflow assembly instructions included parts that don’t exist and several errors, which didn’t help the already confusing situation with stuff not bolting together as it should.

Gates

  • All ‘man gates’, whether in-panel or standalone, cannot physically open. The pin of the slam latch never retracts far enough for it to leave its hole (as demonstrated on the very first video on this page).
  • Multiple full length cattle gate latches don’t move freely and/or have pins that are longer than the strike plate, which means the pin doesn’t hit the angled part of the strike plate, so the pin does not retract when slammed – the gate just bounces back open.
  • Arrowquip’s implementation of Rotech Rural’s slam latches (a third party who supplies some of the components Arrowquip uses to build their yards) is not in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. I have personally confirmed with Rotech Rural that striker plates should be at no more than 30 degrees and pin protrusion should be 10-20mm. Arrowquip’s implementation is more like 50 degrees and 25mm. As such, the “slam latches” I paid for, cannot (and do not) reliably operate as slam latches.

Miscellaneous stuff…

  • The calf-to-adult adaptor posts (which allow for the different height components for calves and adults to be joined together) were welded upside down (I have assembled the calf race with the caps on the ground and the feet in the air, to enable me to continue building).
  • The calf table’s large pivot bolt and nylocks were not even finger tight – one nut is sitting on about one thread without the nylon having been engaged, the other nut is missing altogether, presumably fallen off in transit.

How were these issues handled?

In my opinion, badly:

  • I emailed the address printed on the back of the budflow assembly instructions, as the contact point for any issues, and copied in my territory sales manager, at the end of September. The sales guy got back to me but I didn’t hear anything from client care.
  • A few days later (October 1st) I emailed the sales guy again with some more issues and pointed out that while he’d been in touch, I’d heard nothing from client care, and copied in the general client care address. 
  • I finally received a call from client care on October 6th, with an apology for the issues I’d noted, and advice that parts were being trucked to the territory manager to install.
  • The territory manager came onsite October 14th and spent the morning confirming the issues, effectively trying to work around them (e.g. drilling additional holes) and assisting with assembly of the budflow. In doing so, we only then discovered some of the issues listed above, which I reported again the next day by email, to the guy who’d called me from client care. The territory manager advised he expected to get the entire budflow replaced. 
  • A month later, having decided I could no longer afford to wait for the budflow to be replaced before continuing with the build, I moved on with assembly, and discovered the issues with the gates, which I again brought to the attention of multiple people in the company via email on Sunday November 15th. I added that if I didn’t get a written action plan mid-week, with concrete delivery dates, I’d be seeking legal advice.
  • Four days later, November 19th, the territory sales manager was back onsite confirming the newly discovered issues. The action plan and delivery dates still hadn’t come. Indeed, I had still not received a single email from anyone in Arrowquip client care, only the one phone call back on October 6th.
  • Having raised these issues in the online Regrarians workplace forum, I was given the email address of two senior staff based in the US. I wrote to them on Friday 20th November, as I’d still not received an action plan or delivery dates (though the territory manager had mentioned December 25th as a hypothetical date, which I thought was a joke, but we’re now pretty close to that). I received a prompt and courteous emailed reply (my first from anyone at Arrowquip other than the salesman who sold me the yard) which referred me to, and CC’d, the managing director of Arrowquip Australia.
  • The managing director also replied that day (Friday 20th) and advised this was the first he’d heard of my issues. This may well be the case, but if I was managing director of a stockyard company which had supplied (in one single order) gates that don’t open, gates that don’t fit, and gates that don’t close, stuff welded upside down and around the wrong way, and missing parts, and which had received notification of potential legal action sent to multiple employees, I’d be asking myself what kind of company culture exists that such issues could go under the radar of the managing director for 6 weeks. I also received a call from the client care manager that afternoon, asking when would be a good time to talk through the issues on the phone with both him and the managing director. We agreed on Monday for the call, and I also advised the managing director – who had asked, in his email, for a good time to speak to me directly – of this agreement.
  • Monday came and went. As did the rest of that working week. I spoke to a lawyer during the week. After 5pm on Friday arvo, 27th November, I received a call from the client care manager who apologised and advised that my replacement parts would go through production the following week and hopefully ship the week after.
  • Tuesday 1st December I received an email from client care advising that the parts were “progressing well” and confirming that they’re working on shipping the next week.
  • Fifteen days passed, and on December 16th, I received an email from client care advising that while they had planned to ship the previous week, some parts had been held up, and everything is packed with the truck ready to be loaded Friday, and client care would let both me and the territory sales manager know when it leaves.
  • I received a call on the 18th from the territory sales manager to say the offside crush (which was supposed to be here last month) had arrived, and to line up a time for him to perform the replacement of the budflow and faulty gates. I still haven’t actually been advised by client care that the truck has left the factory, so I’m not holding my breath.
  • It’s now December 20th, 5 days from Christmas, in the height of my raspberry picking season, and I have until December 31 to have the yards installed and ready to use to meet the COVID-19 asset write off stimulus deadline. For yards I paid for in mid-July. 
  • Update 28/12/2020 – the offside crush arrived two days before Christmas, with the issues as noted in the video toward the top of this page. The replacement panel gates etc. are, I’m advised, somewhere in Tasmania having left the factory on the 19th of December and apparently in Tasmania by the 21st. As I told the Territory Manager, I’m pretty annoyed, on principle, that they haven’t arrived yet, but I also have plenty of other stuff to manage at this time of year. Including, now, how to get the issues with the crush resolved (noting that the Arrowquip warranty plainly states that any modifications to the crush will void the 10 year warranty).

In stark contrast to these dealings, I have also had an issue with an Orion water tank I purchased, which is going to be replaced under warranty after I emailed a picture to the company. I was phoned and given a day the truck would arrive to collect and replace the tank. A couple of days out from that day, I was phoned again to say – in advance – there were issues with some production equipment and it’s possible the tank would be delayed. I was called again to confirm that the delay had indeed occurred and another date was booked, with the advice that I’d also receive a time of arrival closer to the day. That’s how you handle production issues: keep your customer informed; if you promise a call, make the call; if you say you want to speak direct to the customer, make the effort to actually do that; at very least acknowledge receipt of emails.

Hopefully I’ll have a happy ending to add at some point when things are less busy. I’ve heard very good things about Arrowquip prior to, and after, this purchase, so perhaps I’m just really, really, unlucky.