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Fence Life Lessons

fencing life lessons

7 Life Lessons Learned From Fencing in Rural America

By Keith Taylor, Bekaert Fence Pro

There’s only one place I’ve ever called home: Hackett, Arkansas. Being from a small town in Arkansas is something I’m very proud of.

Hackett is just south of Van Buren, which is where Bekaert Fencing has operated their manufacturing plant for more than four decades. When I wanted to return home after a short stint at college, Bekaert was hiring. I took the job and I haven’t looked back. This year, I’m proudly celebrating 30 years with Bekaert.

In that time, I’ve served in many roles including galvanizing and operating fence manufacturing machines on the factory floor, writing standard operating procedures (SOPs), as well as recruiting, training and supervising. Today, I have the honor of being a Technical Support Manager for the West. We assist customers with their fencing questions, travel to various events to teach fencing, work directly with the contractors in our Contractor Advantage Program (CAP), make educational videos and assist with how-to articles.

Through the years, I’ve learned numerous things from my career in fencing and the agriculture industry. Here are a few of those life lessons. 

Lesson #1: Farming is About Community

I’m very proud to tell others I grew up in a rural area and still live there today. In fact, I reside on the same farm my grandparents did. But the reason I am so proud to live in rural America is because it is the true definition of community.

Where I live, neighbors help each other. I see it all the time. Assisting with clean up after a storm. Building a new driveway after heavy rains and flooding. Feeding and working cattle for the rancher who is too sick to do the work himself. It’s just what a farming community does.

In my work travels, I notice this is common to all rural areas. It doesn’t matter if I’m in California or upstate New York, there is a deep root of family, friendship, hospitality and genuine care in all of rural America.

We truly are blessed to live in these communities. If you need help, reach out to your neighbor. They’ll be glad to help and your time to return the favor will come.

Lesson #2: Hard Work Always Pays Off

Fencing is hard work. If you’ve installed a fence before, you know that. But I find it’s always rewarding to see the end result and be able to say, “I built that.”

I think it’s an important life lesson that can be applied to many things. Not everything is going to come easy. Sometimes you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and not be afraid to put the work in.

Lesson #3: Cheaper Doesn’t Mean Better

Fencing can be a big investment, especially large-scale projects. So, I get wanting to save where you can. But, in my 30 years, I’ve learned cheaper doesn’t mean better.

Because installing fence is very labor intensive, you want to do it right the first time. This involves using correct installation techniques and quality materials. If you do both, you’ll have a fence that lasts for years to come that doesn’t require as much maintenance.

One thing I often encourage customers to do is invest in high tensile wire fencing. High tensile is a lighter wire that will naturally expand and contract with heavy snow loads and temperature changes so you won’t have sagging wire come spring. It’s worth the initial investment for less maintenance costs in the long run.

Another thing to consider are coatings, which prevents steel wire from rusting. For example, if you live in a coastal area, I encourage a Bezinal® coated fence. The soil is acidic and there is a lot of salt in the air. Because of this I’ve seen a fence deteriorate as fast as six years. Bezinal coating is worth the investment to ensure a longer life for your fence.

Lesson #4: Be Prepared for Anything & Everything

I live by the wise advice of Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

There is a reason for that. I’ve seen one time too many what can happen if you’re not prepared. That is why, in my role as a Bekaert Fence Pro, I’m always telling others to check their fence lines often and always keep repair materials on hand.

When fencing is involved, you don’t want to be unprepared and have your cows out with no way to keep them in. You’re better off having a couple rolls of wire on hand, especially with fencing products in high demand right now.

If you do fail to prepare and you’re in a bind, Bekaert now sells many products online that are available for quick shipping. Shop now at fencing.bekaert.com.

Lesson #5: There is More To Your Buying Decision Than Pricing

If there is one thing I’ve learned from 30 years in the fencing industry, it’s that you can’t rely on pricing to make your purchase decisions.

Prices on steel wire have always gone up and down. That’s how it was when I started at Bekaert and that’s how it is today. That probably will never change.

My advice is to not put off purchasing materials with the hope that prices may go down. When you do this, you run the risk of materials selling out. Instead, invest when you can and when product is available.

Lesson #6: Be Willing to Learn From Others

Never think you know it all. There is always more to learn, but you have to be willing to ask and learn. Even as a Fence Pro, I continue to learn from my fellow colleagues as well as the contractors I work with.

But I’ve seen many who are too stubborn to ask for help or they’re afraid to look ignorant.

Don’t let that be you. Ask a fellow farmer about the techniques he uses even if you’ve been fencing your entire life. You never know. He may use a technique you weren’t aware of that will make things easier for you.

And if you’re new to fencing, who better to reach out to than a knowledgeable rancher or farmer in your area that has built fence for years? Always be willing to learn from others!

Lesson #7: Make Fencing a Family Affair

Last, but certainly not least, make installing fence a task for the entire family. Through the years, I’ve involved my two kids in a number of my fencing projects. To me, nothing beats working side-by-side and accomplishing a task together.

I’ve enjoyed raising my kids the same way I was raised. Growing up in a rural community like Hackett, Arkansas, is rewarding in itself. You learn so many things like how hard work pays off and what community truly means. Being able to instill those values in my children, I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

 

Whether you have any questions or just want to chat fencing, I’d love to hear from you. Reach out at fencing.bekaert.com/en/contact-us and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours.