Kubota Corp.’s acquisition of Great Plains finalized on July 1 and leaders from both companies told dealers at its recent national dealer meeting in Kansas City, Mo., that it’s “business as usual.” Confirming messages from the earlier announcement of the pending acquisition, all five Great Plains divisions will operate as they have been with their infrastructure intact.
Kubota has had a marketing agreement with Great Plain’s Land Pride division since 2007 and expanded that last year to include skid steer and construction attachments.
Roy Applequist, founder of Great Plains, which is based in Salina, Kan., will remain on to support the transition and Linda Salem continues as president. “Kubota has a long-term view of the industry and stays committed to product development through cycles and that’s the way Great Plains has always been,” Applequist says. “There are a lot of different people you could sell your company to and we were approached by a lot of people. But Kubota came to us and that was the best fit we could see going forward for our people, our dealers and our customers.”
Masato Yoshikawa, president and CEO of Kubota Tractor Corp., says, “Kubota will provide support where we can. Great Plains and its relationships with dealers are strong and robust and our goal is to make them even stronger. We are committed to allocating resources and investments in product development, support and many other areas.”
He referenced the company’s acquisition of Kverneland in May of 2012. “Kvnerneland is strong in Western Europe and Great Plains is strong in North America and with these two companies, I think we can have a good implement business,” Yoshikawa says.
This year, Great Plains is introducing 14 new products, including several that are targeted to the smaller acreage farmer, borrowing technology from the Land Pride brand. For instance, Great Plains has introduced a compact simple no-till seeder, a smaller version of the Turbo-Max vertical tillage tool and a new rotary cutter line. The company also introduced larger versions of the Turbo-Max, stack-fold planters, five-section chisel plows and field cultivator air drills.
The company has introduced 21 new products in the last 3 years. It has invested $58 million in capital improvements since 2012 and expects to invest $10 million this year.
The larger implements manufactured by Great Plains require a higher horsepower tractor than Kubota now offers. The M7 series, with models ranging from 130-170 horsepower, delivers the highest power in its current lineup. Yoshikawa says, “We just introduced the 170 horsepower tractors. We want to study them and make sure our solution can be better than others. Otherwise, we’re just moving up in horsepower.”
Todd Stucke, Kubota’s vice president of sales, marketing and product support, comments on the company’s approach to the Kubota and Great Plains dealer network, saying, “There is no mandate. On the dealer side, we want to earn that business and entice the dealer to want to carry the Land Pride brand. When he does and makes money with it, then he’ll carry our brand and stock it and at the end of the day, the customer wins. As far as Great Plains, it’s wherever the contract is open. If the contract is open and a Kubota dealer can provide the right product support, he may have the right to have that contract.”