Yanmar introduced its new sub-compact tractor lineup this spring and Keith Wainwright, agriculture equipment business unit manager, says there were two main factors behind the introduction: demand from a growing segment of the rural lifestyle market and the company’s decision to offer customized equipment.

“The sub-compact line continues to grow in terms of overall investment from consumers. It’s the largest growing segment,” says Wainwright of the customers that Yanmar refers to as “agri-lifers.”

 “It’s about living a lifestyle where there is a sense of accomplishment, living a life that is more self-sustaining and teaching life lessons to their kids and themselves,” Wainwright says. “We’re seeing a movement in fresh and locally grown foods. Instead of going easy and quick with food, they are going to more farmers’ markets and supporting CSAs (community supported agriculture). We’re all about supporting that lifestyle.”

Wainwright says Yanmar’s three new offerings provide more options to this segment. “Previously we had offered 2 models, one with a backhoe and one without. We wanted to hone in on specializing and customizing. The industry is very ‘cookie cutter’ and we wanted to fine tune the products in the segment and offer different sizes in the same segment,” Wainwright says. “It’s not just a horsepower difference, but a size difference, too.

Keith Wainwright is agriculture equipment business unit manager for Yanmar.

The Yanmar 221, 324 and 424 range from 21-24 horsepower, with diesel engines. Each model offers a series of packages based on whether a loader, mower, backhoe or combination of attachments is added.

Matching Customers’ Values

Wainwright says Yanmar has an advantage in the segment because its values align with this segment of agri-lifers. “The self-reliant, self-sustaining movement is a natural fit for us. We focus from the start on being clean and efficient and ‘how do we do more with less?’ We key in on fuel consumption, running at lower RPMs and still have a robust lift capacity.

“We design, engineer and manufacture all of the tractor’s key components, so that they are built to be more efficient. Our tractors have less vibration and less fuel consumption. They are the most efficient tractors we can build. We’re not the most inexpensive tractor in the market, nor do we want to be.

Dealers Focusing on Segment

Wainwright says Yanmar has about 500 dealers nationwide, including both its agriculture and its construction equipment dealers. He says Yanmar dealers are already serving this sub-compact market, but it can be expanded.

“A lot of dealers are already keyed in to those people living this lifestyle. They have them as customers, but may not target them specifically. We are going to promote what dealers are doing to help draw out customers to their local dealers,” Wainwright says. “We want to promote that the dealership and that everyone who works at Yanmar is behind the customer. If you do have an issue, we’re going to stand behind it.”

He offers this advice to dealers to win over more agri-lifers. “Be a resource and listen. Remove the anxiety about making the investment.”

Yanmar introduced 3 new sub-compact models this spring and is now promoting the tractors at dealerships nationwide with its "Passion for the Land TracTour." Shown is the 424 model, 24 horsepower with diesel engine.

Seeking Dealers

Wainwright says that they are always looking for quality dealers, but are targeting the smaller ag segment.

“We’re not chasing the big ag markets. We’re very much focused on areas like the Northeast through the upper Midwest and down into the Southeast. We also continue to grow on the west coast. We don’t want to sacrifice anyone’s market to expand, though. We have a partner in our dealers,” he says.

Wainwright provides this update on another partnership, its agreement with Woods Equipment that launched in January 2013. “They are the experts in attachments and we appreciate that relationship very much. It’s still in the infancy stage but we continue to work together to develop a strong offering for our dealers. Dealers and agri-lifers alike have been very supportive of the partnership.”

The Woods attachments are black and the new tractors are red, as opposed to the traditional yellow. Wainwright says, “We have an exciting new color and hard-wearing design, which puts us more in tune with our heritage and the traditional Yanmar look.  We want people to be proud of their tractors.”