Equipment dealer cleans up farms

John Schmitz/For the Capital Press St. Paul, Ore., grass seed grower Andrew Pohlschneider stands with a Hotzy pressure washer from American Equipment that is used to clean farm equipment.

By JOHN SCHMITZ

For the Capital Press

In 1994, when then-Coca Cola salesman Mark Hagg was asked to transfer out of the Northwest, he decided to make a clean break, bid the bottler farewell and open his own business.

Today, Hagg owns and operates American Equipment, a large cleaning and related equipment dealership in north Portland that caters to several industries, including agriculture.

"We sell to anybody who needs cleaning equipment, and we love selling to the agriculture markets," said Hagg, who was raised on a dairy farm near Hillsboro. "We have a lot of equipment on a lot of the farms."

In addition to farms, Hagg does business with wineries, which use pressure washers to clean tanks, drums, barrels and bottling lines. One washer, the Gamajet, is designed to do a thorough cleaning job on tanks, totes and barrels in a matter of minutes.

Because they want to reduce carbon emissions, wineries are replacing their diesel-heated pressure washers with those using cleaner-burning natural gas and propane, Hagg said.

Oregon berry processor Townsend Farms uses a large industrial Hotsy they purchased from American Equipment to wash berry trays.

"We put in a wastewater treatment system there that brought their B.O.D. (biological oxygen demand) load down from 12,000 to 15 in a very short time," Hagg said. "It saved them considerable money."

American Equipment stocks dozens of power washers of various capacities, with hot water pressure washers ranging in price from $3,000 to over $20,000 for a diesel-heated, trailer-mounted unit.

For customers with a lot of grit and grease to remove, Hagg recommends hot-water pressure washers. "Grease on heavy equipment takes a much higher temperature range, generally ... 160 degrees to 180 degrees."

For customers with a lot of equipment to clean, Hagg recommends going with a larger piece of equipment. He uses an analogy: "If you're going to haul hay to Eastern Oregon, you can do it in a pickup, but the guys with the semis will move a lot more hay a lot more economically."

In addition to pressure washing equipment, American Equipment carries other machinery designed to sanitize equipment, and even water. One such unit was sold to a Dundee winery.

So that it can better respond to service calls, American Equipment markets its products generally within a two-hour drive of Portland, from Eugene to Chehalis and Centralia. The company also offers sales and service in Bend.

Another piece of equipment popular with farmers is the Clean Burn waste-oil-burning furnace -- the biggest seller in the world, according to Hagg.

One reason that waste-oil-burning furnaces are popular, Hagg said, is because of the huge financial liability involved when trucks hauling waste oil overturn.

Yet another piece of cleaning equipment American Equipment sells is the ozone injection system, which one Oregon hazelnut grower built into his second-rinse washer in its production lines.

To go along with its washers, American Equipment sells detergents and other cleansing agents. The company also sells used equipment and offers rentals.

American Equipment is in Booth 46 at the expo. For more information on the company, go to americanequipmentco.com

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