New Leaf Orchards

Michigan, USA

How New Leaf Orchards saved hours every week on payroll, benefited from accessible, accurate information, and were able to spend more time with family.

More Time. Easy-To-Use. Improved Accuracy. Convenient Access To Information.
Map of the USA pinpointing Michigan State.
Fruit Types Apples, Peaches, Cherries, and Plums.
Size 600 acres / 243 hectares
Using Hectre App Since March 2022
Modules In Use
  • Harvest
  • Timesheets & Payroll
  • Background
    Located in Kent County, Michigan, New Leaf Orchards grows high-quality, delicious-tasting apples, peaches, plums, and cherries across nearly 600 acres. Kent County is renowned for its nutrient-rich soils and ideal apple-growing conditions, which make it the top apple-producing county in Michigan.

    New Leaf Orchards is a proudly family-owned and operated vertically integrated business that began in 2008 after the farming operations were separated from the family-owned packing and storage company, Nyblad Orchards Inc. Nyblad Orchards was started by Bill's grandfather and his brother in 1928. Today, Bill’s dad is the owner of the company, while Bill manages the orchard.

    New Leaf joined Hectre just before the 2022 apple harvest kicked off. Described by Bill as “insanely busy,” the 2022 season was a big one for the New Leaf team, with new trees coming on in a big way, which saw production increase by 30-40%.

    Man stands under an apple tree with a barn in the background.
    A man picks apples on an orchard.
    Challenges & Solutions
    New Leaf Orchards owner Bill Nyblad
    Woman behind a desk in an office.
    We sat down with New Leaf Orchards Manager Bill Nyblad, and Office Manager, Krysti Hall, to find out how Hectre’s Orchard Management Software is supporting them in their success.
    Why Did You Select Hectre As Your Tech Partner?
    Most technology offerings didn't fit the bill… Hectre was the comprehensive orchard management solution I was looking for.
    Bill: When I started looking for a technology solution to streamline our operations and increase efficiency, I found that most of the offerings didn't quite fit the bill. I was looking for a comprehensive solution that incorporated GPS tracking, could be used on smartphones and tablets, and could be used to manage all aspects of our business - from harvest tracking to calculating labor inputs by block. That's when I discovered Hectre, and it was a game-changer.

    Hectre had the GPS tracking capability I was looking for, along with using smartphones and tablets as the main hardware for their interface. However, it was Hectre’s value as an orchard management tool that really excited me. For example, being able to track labor inputs on a block-by-block basis and being able to drill down into the various management approaches applied to different blocks and decide where more attention, or less, was needed.

    These are just some of the reasons that I went with Hectre. There’s also where I believe the company and its technology are going, which I am very enthusiastic about.
    Payroll Before Hectre
    A significant amount of time was spent counting bin tickets and copying information.
    Krysti: I remember when pickers would show up at the door and say, “Here are my tickets. I picked 25 bins,” and a check would be written out for them. That was payroll. Over the years, as the business has grown, our payroll process has become much more sophisticated, with accurate record-keeping an absolute necessity.

    Before Hectre, we had a paper-tag system with three parts to the ticket. The top part would go on the bin, the middle part to the office, and the bottom part was for the pickers, so they could keep track of their work. The tickets would be counted up in the office, and the information transferred to our office records.

    It might seem relatively simple, but there would be issues, such as incorrect block numbers, incorrect dates, and poor penmanship. A significant amount of time was spent counting the bin tickets, re-recording the information, and checking the block numbers to make sure those numbers matched up.

    And so we were looking for a better system, one that meant we didn’t have to hand count everything to get the harvest totals. We also needed to better track when employees began and finished working, which the Hectre app allows us to do.
    A tractor with 3 people inside on an orchard as the sun sets.
    Apple bins full and lined up on an orchard.
    An apple orchard bin ticket.
    The Benefits Of More Time & Having A Digital Record

    Krysti: With Hectre, around 4-6 hours are saved per week. That’s time not spent counting bins, transferring information, and checking and correcting errors. There’s probably even more time saved by not having to sort through all of the bin tickets when an issue like a picker claiming they weren’t paid for all their bins occurs.

    For the first time in 35 years, I was able to take a Friday off to visit my granddaughters up north during the harvest season.

    With the system we used before Hectre, there would usually be three or four such issues per week. Since Hectre, there’s been virtually zero. So, Hectre saves us a lot of time and frustration, especially during the busy harvest time. Now that we have the digital record from the Hectre app, it’s so much easier to resolve issues like that.

    There was also quite a lot of stress before Hectre, which wasn’t helped by knowing that in your personal life, you can't do anything in the fall, ever, because of the time it takes to organize the bin tickets. Thanks to Hectre, this was the first fall in 35 years that I was able to finish early on Fridays and take a Friday off to go and see my granddaughters up north. Knowing I didn’t have piles of bin tickets to catch up on meant I could take that time off.
    Easily Accessible, Reliable Information
    Having all the information I need right at my fingertips is incredibly beneficial.

    Krysti: Hectre provides us with much more accurate information that we can access straight away from anywhere. When I arrive at 7 AM on Monday, I can pull up the records and have them ready for payroll much earlier than before. Having all the information at my fingertips whenever I want to work on it is a massive benefit.

    When crew leaders have had questions about how the harvest is going, instead of needing to open up a spreadsheet and look for the totals of a block, I’ve been able to provide the information they need with just the click of a button.

    It’s also useful for keeping track of employee performance, such as whether a picker is performing at the same level as the best pickers, which is helpful when deciding whether to invite a picker back next year.
    With Hectre, tracking harvest data and employee performance is effortless.
    Sunrise on a Michigan Orchard
    First Harvest With Hectre
    Hectre’s simplicity made implementation possible during a very busy harvest.

    Bill: Our first harvest using Hectre turned out to be one of the busiest. Having Hectre to help keep track of everything and improve the payroll process certainly made it easier. It was also a big help that the Hectre app is simple to navigate.

    As a result, one of the farms that packs at our family packing house has already signed up with Hectre for next season. With the value that Hectre has delivered and how much Krysti enjoyed using Hectre for the payroll, I am confident that all four farms will soon be using Hectre.
    A man stands in his orchard in Michigan.
    Empty apple trees on an orchard.
    It’s very intuitive to use and much more than what you gain in time.

    Krysti: Right from the start, we found Hectre to be very intuitive because it’s similar to using a cell phone. If you can’t work out how to do something, there are resources that provide easy-to-follow explanations, or our customer success rep is just a phone call away. However, I haven’t needed to ask for much help because it is so easy to use.

    Often human error, like recording the wrong block number, will have a flow-on effect. With Hectre, once the issue is identified and addressed, it’s instantly corrected across all the other records. I remember during the harvest when a data entry mistake caused 72 errors. With the Hectre app, I was able to correct the issue very quickly with just a few clicks. Hectre is wonderful to use!

    Like the Nike slogan, if you are on the fence about getting Hectre, I would say, just do it. Don’t hesitate. It’s so worth it. Not just what you can gain in time but what you can gain in your personal life when you don’t have a paper system slowing you down and causing unnecessary stress.
    A Hectre tablet with orchard information being held in an orchard.
    image of ipad

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