Years ago — OK, decades ago — as a 14-year-old, I was assigned the job of cleaning the strainers in our farm sprayer. This task was given during a late springtime farm lunch which consisted of a beef roast, complete with new potatoes, carrots, onions and other stuff, cream style corn (whole kernel corn should be illegal), butterbeans, black eyed peas (sweet peas should be outlawed as well) cornbread, whole milk, sweet tea and a cherry cobbler fo dessert with a scoop of homemade ice cream. We didn't have any money but we did eat well, three squares — actually hexagons — a day.
After this umpteen course meal, I was dropped off at the sprayer and instructed to wait until my uncle Thomas arrived with new spray tips. With a full belly, a warm sun and a wagon bed to lay back on, I soon fell asleep. Thomas arrived and being a practical joker and career military man, thought it great sport to give me a "hot foot."
He poured a small amount of gas in a grease cap, poured a dab on my new shoe's soles and lit the petrol. What he did not know was I had just rubbed these new clogs down with all the Watkin's Mink Oil they would stand. Now he had created a combustible mixture that could not be contained. I awoke from my dream of running down a hot paved road barefoot to see two roman candles strapped to my feet. He was feverishly trying to beat the blazes out with his cap to no avail. I ran the 20 yards to the pond in record time and jumped in. As I exited the steam was still coming from the soles and they flapped up and down with each step as the seams had burned through on the toes.
My Mom almost killed him. The Red Wings had cost her a month's salary. She never forgave him.
Now, what does this have to do with our occupation? Today, we have too many entities trying to give "hot foots" not thinking through the underlying combustibles. I received a survey concerning a manufacturer (that ain't a big three logo) who has a push for "purity." Give me a break. These days if a marketing organization can't get a dealer to stock only his products, they should look in the mirror instead of their dealer's window.
We have the "Right to Repair" fight going on. It takes a real kind of stupid for manufacturers to limit access to their products to the degree to provoke the prevailing law suit which they lost. What were they thinking? Now they have opened Pandora's box as "hackers" can now see into the looking glass of their proprietary inventions or are trying.
The USDA is trying to limit the growth of large farms and trying to bolster small farm's ability to compete through subsidies and other proposals that buck a capitalistic economic system, be it right or wrong.
We could go on, but the point is all these examples and more have had people with good intentions causing combustible explosions with unintended consequences. Instead of promoting debate and asking for compromises, they strike a match and drop it on what they didn't think through.
We do the same things in our dealerships as well, or at least I have. We should all blow out the match at times and think "what if" before we get another match. The guys with the MBAs who occupy the boxes of organizational charts of farm equipment companies especially should. To paraphrase a bear of long ago, "Only You Can Prevent Stupid Reaction Fires."
'Til next time, wishing you miles of smiles and profits and enough wind to blow out the match.
Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. — Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.
More From Tim Brannon
- Dealers: In Troubled Times, Remember Your Role
- Do Your Customers 'Drink From the Hose'?
- Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
- Dog Days of Summer
- Dealers Take Note: We Are Not Inadequate
Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways is brought to you by the Solectrac.
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