DULUTH, Georgia — AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology, at 5 p.m. on Dec. 21, 2021, announced an agreement to acquire Appareo Systems LLC of Fargo, in a deal expected to close in January 2022.
Appareo is a leader in software engineering, hardware development and electronic manufacturing. AGCO intends to “retain the Appareo team and maintain its design operations in Fargo, North Dakota, and Paris, France,” according to an AGCO release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Appareo specializes in research, development, design and manufacturer of tangible technology that uses artificial intelligence, “mechatronics” (mechanics, electronics, and computing) and innovative electronics. The company delivers solutions in communication, monitoring, sensing, tracking and controlling devices and systems used in agriculture and aviation industries as well as other off-road businesses.
"Appareo has developed a world-class organization with exceptional capabilities to solve highly complex customer problems in emerging technology areas,” said Eric Hansotia, AGCO chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We see Appareo as a great addition to support delivering high-quality smart solutions to our farmers to maximize both their user experience and profitability.
Barry Batcheller of Fargo founded Appareo in 2003, and remained its board chairman. His son, David Batcheller, is the company’s president and chief business officer.
Barry and David announced the AGCO deal to employees on Dec. 21, prior to the announcement, according to employees attending the meeting in Fargo. They said Barry would be leaving his post and retiring while David would stay on as general manager.
The company in the past had more than 200 employees, but recently had about 150 employees.
Barry told employees that the acquisition should be good news for employees. The acquisition by a Fortune 500 company allows Appareo to grow as a technology hub in a new era of precision farm planting. Appareo was largely family-owned and had become limited in its ability to amass capital to meet its potential. Besides the agriculture side, the AGCO deal includes Appareo’s other expertise in aerospace, government and defense work.
AGCO is the world’s third-largest agricultural machinery designer, manufacturer and distributor (behind Deere & Company and CNH Industrial N.V.). AGCO’s brands include Challenger, Fendt, GSI, MasseyFerguson and Valtra. The company was founded in 1990 and headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, near Atlanta. The company had sales of $9.1 billion in 2020.
Barry Batcheller came to Fargo to study aerospace engineering and was involved in the startup of six companies, including Phoenix International. He had been director of technology growth for John Deere before starting Appareo. Appareo initially was a provider of custom electronics and software designed for off-highway and airborne equipment, and returned to the agricultural stage when Barry’s non-compete terms had expired.
Appareo — through Intelligent Ag, Galeo, and Stratus brands — delivers aftermarket electronic and software solutions for agricultural, aviation and off-road customers. All of its products are built and supported in the U.S. In 2014, Appareo announced a 50-50 joint venture with AGCO, under the Independent Agricultural Solution brand. IAS develops electronics for sale into the "after-market" market and 100 percent of the profits go into new technology development for AGCO.
Barry Batcheller is the originator of a push to make North Dakota a leader in collaboration for artificial intelligence and autonomy in farm equipment, and for attracting investments in the region’s ag manufacturing “major.” He and others helped create the concept of the Grand Farm, which is a kind of demonstration and “maker space” for innovations, especially relating to autonomous farming techniques.
Appareo made headlines in March 2020 by making emergency ventilator equipment to help out health care facilities with a shortage of supply as the COVID-19 pandemic grew.