Ambling through the large 12,000 square foot showroom of the North Canton, Ohio Ag-Pro, some customers might remember the location as it was in its past life: a Harley Davidson dealership. General Manager Josh Knapik and his staff like to joke: “We kept it American-made, we just added two wheels.” But, the savings, efficiency and opportunity for growth they’ve seen from with the retrofit is no joke at all. 

The dealer’s story started back when Ag-Pro bought out the previous owners of the two-location Moore’s Lawn and Garden in early 2021. About 6 months later, Ag-Pro packed up the inventory and staff and moved them 30 miles up the road to the sprawling former motorcycle shop nestled against Interstate-77. 

“Our old locations were very cramped, and our techs were actually working in the basement, so this was immediately a huge upgrade,” says Knapik, “But from Ag-Pro’s perspective, this was really a great opportunity because the Harley Davidson was already almost fully fit out like we needed and the location was perfect. You couldn’t have asked for a better pre-existing building.” 

Opening a brand-new dealership always comes with obstacles. Typically physical location, design, construction and land-use permitting all figure heavily into the conversation. Each of those items come with a hefty price tag and can be subject to massive delays. Sidestepping all those difficulties in favor of using an existing commercial building can be an excellent solution — it’s finding that good fit that’s tricky. Former Harley Davidson dealerships are nearly perfect though, Knapik says.

Moved Quick, Customized Slow

Purpose-building a dealership can deliver exactly what the owner wants in terms of design, but it can’t match the speed of altering an existing building, says Knapik. 

“It took Ag-Pro literally 6 months to buy the building and get it set up for us to move into it,” he says. “Honestly it was mostly just cosmetics and merchandising displays that they needed to change. The awnings were orange and we needed to make them green.” 

He readily admits that the building wasn’t a perfect fit. For instance, the showroom is bigger than they require, something that probably wouldn’t have happened if it had been designed as an Ag-Pro dealer. Interestingly though, Knapik says that he and his staff have found ways to use these mismatches to their advantage.


The old Harley Davidson dealership came with a 12,000 square foot showroom, more than Ag-Pro might have had if they purpose built it. However, staff makes the most of it by having a larger amount of equipment on the floor than they otherwise would have and having longer more relaxed indoor conversations with their clients.

“Since we have so much showroom space, we put out a lot of our inventory on the floor,” he says. “This is especially useful if it’s raining or cold outside. A customer is only going to look at the tractor for a few minutes outside in those conditions, but since we’re indoors, we can have a longer, relaxed conversation and they can have a thorough look at the merchandise.” 

 Similarly, the technician bays had been designed to service motorcycles, so the shop had been broken up into concrete-walled “cubbies.” Wide open space works better for the type of service Ag-Pro does, but Knapik says they still found a way to make use of the former layout. 

“We needed room in the middle of the shop floor for servicing bigger equipment like 6 series tractors, so we ended up breaking up all the concrete barriers in the center,” he says. “But we found out pretty quickly that the cubbies along the walls worked really great for organizing our tools and other equipment, so we left a lot of those in.” 

Having more space than they needed allowed Knapik and his team to make a lot of these customizations when convenient as well. He notes that the changes weren’t made in the shop until about 8 months after they opened — during their slower season in the winter. 

The ability to pace the customization has also been a big advantage in the parts department, Knapik says. 

“The parts department is actually two-stories which has been really nice,” he explains. “This has been important during supply chain issues because we get customers from farmers to just average guys changing the oil on their lawn mower, so we like to have a lot of inventory on hand. Even as we continue to grow and understand our demographics, we still have lots of room in the parts department.” 

Other existing design particulars, like the large mirrors throughout the showroom, were perhaps more aesthetically-minded than necessary. 

“The mirrors makes sense with all the high-chrome motorcycles and wanting to see yourself sitting on them, but that’s probably a little less the case with tractors,” laughs Knapik. 


Since the showroom doesn’t have a large garage door, staff’s display is limited to what they can get through the front door. However, great highway frontage and a big parking lot allows them to display a lot of the bigger equipment outside.

Of more consequence, Knapik notes that if the building had been purpose-built, they would have included a garage or bay door that opens to the showroom. At present, staff is limited to what they can get through the front double doors. 

“The biggest thing we can get through the front door is a 3 series tractor,” says Knapik. “It’s not a huge limitation though because we’re able to have the bigger equipment on display outside.” 

Poised for Growth

Still the biggest benefit the dealer saw from the retrofit is the dealership’s excellent opportunities for growth, says Knapik. He believes they’re ideally located to take advantage of a wide variety of customer types. 

Right now, the Ag-Pro store has about 15 employees. Knapik says that could comfortably rise to 20 as new markets are tapped. Also, there’s space available for Ag-Pro corporate employees to move in to support the dealership’s regional operations. 

“We could easily add a few techs, parts guys and sales guys with the space we have,” he says. “But the Harley Davidson was laid out with a lot more single offices for salesmen, managers, loan officers, and those types — we have some of that space left over. Ag-Pro could move in some accounting, call center or support people later if they wanted. There’s just a lot of extra space that gives us flexibility.”

Already taking advantage of one of Harley Davidson’s franchise rules that locations ought to be directly adjacent to highway exits, Knapik notes the territory they’re located in will likely yield big benefits in the coming years. Proximity to the Ohio Department of Transportation offices, an airport and dozens of different municipalities will allow the store to court clients looking for heavier equipment.

“A lot of the John Deere dealerships do mostly turf and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we’re in a great spot to reach everyone from large hay farmers — there’s a lot of equine people in the area — to the airport needing a 20-foot batwing brush hog to mow around their runways,” he says. “Being between North Canton and Jackson Township, the demographic tends toward upper middle class as well, so the customer base is a very unique mix. The size and options we have with the dealership opens the door for us to ensure we’re offering what everyone around us needs.”