GREENFIELD, Ohio — Charley Stevens, owner of Stevens Hardware & Equipment in Greenfield, Ohio, recently shared his forecasts in Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s 2016 Business Trends & Outlook survey — and he was randomly selected among the respondents to receive the $100 gift card.

We followed up with Stevens to learn more about his dealership and his market. He founded the dealership in 1990, primarily as a Do it Best hardware store franchisee, and then added the Bush Hog and TYM Tractor lines when the local dealer carrying those lines closed. Today, the dealership also carries, Stihl, Scag and Simplicity.

Stevens says hobby farmers make up 50% of his revenues; commercial landscapers make up 10% and production famers account for about 40% of revenues. “Our market got shook up about 4 years ago when the DHL express shipping facility closed in nearby Wilmington, Ohio. About 39% of those employees lived in my dealership’s zip code,” Stevens says. The local downturn was worsened when the federal government stopped funding an area atomic energy facility.

“We’re holding our own and slowly coming back, as long as grain prices don’t drop too low,” Stevens says. “I think it’s going to be a great year for mowers and trimmers. The hobby farmers that have had the same mowers for 10-12 years will probably buy new ones.”

He is concerned about the unseasonably mild winter. “We had the warmest December on record. We need landscapers to ‘push snow’ to open up dollars for spring purchases. Last year, we had a lot of snow and many commercial cutters bought trimmers from us because of the extra cash on hand.”

Stevens has been in the retail business for 40 years, a good share of them in the grocery business. “In the grocery business, you always worry about inventory ‘turns.’ I’ve taken that philosophy through to the equipment business.”