This week we’re pleased to introduce you to Don Buyse, Classic Equine Equipment’s Texas representative. Don has been in construction all of his life. He specialized in barn building, and has been a Classic Equine Equipment distributor for fifteen years, and has been our exclusive Texas representative for eight years. We spoke with Don about the process of barn building and some of the basics you should know when planning to build a barn.
What is your background in regard to the horse industry?
I’ve been in construction all of my life. My father was in construction, and I’ve been building farm and ranch buildings from when I was a kid on – I had to drag 2×4’s when in the third grade. For the last twenty years of my life I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to choose what I wanted to build, and I focused exclusively on equestrian buildings. I built horse barns and worked on horse-related properties because that’s what I enjoyed, because I love the horses so much.
I was also on the board of directors for the National Frame Builders Association (NFBA). The NFBA is an organization which represents the post frame industry in the United States and Canada. I was on their board for many years.
I really got into building some nice custom homes, and I also learned about the new technology that was out there; I did my research finding out what materials I could use. That’s actually how I met Adam Busse, who owns Classic Equine Equipment. Part of my job for the NFBA was to work the annual trade show they sponsored where different companies come to show their products to builders. I’d been lucky enough to have been featured with one of the barns I’d built on the front cover of the NFBA’s magazine. Adam came to the trade show as he was just getting into the business, and he and I got to work together.
I’ve used every horse barn product out there, but I stick with the Classic product because I really liked the product. About six years ago I knew I was going to retire from building, and when I told Adam that I had quite building he said, “No, you’re going to be the Texas representative for Classic Equine Equipment.” I agreed, and I started selling stalls instead of building barns and putting the stalls in them.
I have my barn that I show to people, and every stall in that barn is made a little differently so that I can have clients come in and get a hands-on feeling of what they like. That’s really helped a lot, because sometimes people come in with an idea, but then when you get a hands-on feeling, the product really sells itself. It’s easy for me to sell Classic products because the product is such a good product that it sells itself. I enjoy selling for Classic because you’re not giving somebody something that’s not going to last. It’s top of the line, as far as I’m concerned.
How many barns have you helped build or design?
I have three photo album books, and each one has hundreds of different barns. I’ve probably built over 500 barns in my twenty years building. Some are high-end; some are just very basic open sheds. I’ve done it all. And I built homes. I’d hit all of my goals when I decided to retire from building.
When planning a barn for private use (a non-public facility), what upgrades are really worth the effort?
A fly control system is probably the thing that I tell people they just can’t live without. That’s a product I highly recommend to put into any barn for the comfort for the horses and the people in it.
What is a mistake that you have seen multiple times in barn construction, and how do you avoid it?
People often get a contractor who’s not a horse contractor; he’s just a metal building contractor. This contractor might put up a good quality metal building, but he doesn’t know how to build it to accommodate stalls, so the horse person can go in and put his stuff inside. You need to build your barn from the inside out. Plan it from the inside to incorporate whatever you want in your barn, and then design it out. Then your outside frame construction will meet with your stalls.
In metal buildings, every 25 feet there is a truss and a main column. Most people want 12×12 foot stalls, and two stalls measure up to 24 feet, not 25 feet. Then you have a metal column sitting out there and you have to figure out a way to build your stalls around that.
If you go to any metal building company and tell them that you want a barn, those spans are going to be 25 feet; it’s just what they do. They can change it and make it fit, but you need to have the foresight to tell them that. Often the builders will say that it will be no problem to put stalls inside the building, but then to build the stalls inside that barn we need to custom-build your stalls around those columns. It costs more to do a custom build like that than it would have if your contractor had altered the 25-foot span at the time of the barn’s construction.
What are some frequent questions you are asked regarding barn layout and design?
Most people want to know what others do when building a barn – what styles and options are popular – and I just tell people that they need to design their stalls for them. Do what works for you, choose the options that you will want. If you want a feeder at this height, build it so that you’re happy in the end. Don’t build your barn based on what somebody else likes.
Most of the time with backyard barns, clients don’t think about the little things, like the safety for the horse. Safety is the number one thing you need to think about. Then consider the durability, and that’s where Classic comes in. It’s a very strong and durable stall.
Why do you choose to represent Classic Equine Equipment versus the competitors?
The quality of the product. I’ve been involved with Classic Equine Equipment from the very beginning; I have three stalls in my barn and they are the original stalls that we put in at the very beginning – they’re at least thirteen to fourteen years old. But for the two center partitions between the stalls, I put in another product that was not Classic’s – I put those partitions in there to show people what that other product would look like over time – the partitions are rusty, peeling, and flaking, and Classic’s stalls look brand new. That sells the product right there.
What services do you provide to your potential and current customers that are different than other companies?
We can custom make everything. We make products to the nearest 1/8 of an inch. A lot of companies only give a standard length, whereas we can design our product. We have so many more options of feeders and doors – there isn’t anything out there that we can’t satisfy somebody with.
We can build stalls sturdy enough for a rank or mean stallion; we can beef up the stall to hold up to abuse. Our stalls look as good as the horses you put in them. We can also use different items to stop horses from getting to the product to hurt it so that it still looks just as good later on. It’s all customizable to what you need.
I sell the product because I personally feel it’s the best. I’ve used all of the products available on the market from competitors; Classic’s product is really a good, safe product – and you need a safe product. It lasts and is durable. You get your money’s worth so it does look good years down the road.
Don can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.