In a recent Q&A feature, we asked dealers what advice they would give their younger selves. Ed Talaga of Armstrong Implements, Swift Current, Sask., shared these thoughts. Armstrong Implements was Rural Lifestyle Dealer's 2014 Dealership of the Year.
“At the young age of 18, in 1952, I started employment with Cockshutt Farm Equipment, a well-known Canadian farm equipment company with manufacturing facilities in Brantford, Ontario. This company was well established in Canada with many branches and dealerships. I started in the Edmonton parts department at $140 per month, also spending time in the accounting/credit department and machine order desk.
“In 1958, I was appointed as territory manager in the Peace River area of Alberta at a salary of $350 per month and a $90 car allowance. While these wages today are unthinkable, everything was relevant. You could buy a cart full of groceries for $30, a gallon of gas for $0.30 and I could trade cars for $800 each year.
“I managed and worked with 12 dealers, assisting them with sales and never thought twice about helping a dealer pre-deliver a new combine and then starting up a customer in the field, while the dealer’s wife looked after the dealership.
“In 1964, I was transferred to the Regina branch as sales manager, then as branch manager where I managed branch operations and territory managers until 1976. During these years I worked very hard, starting at 8 a.m. and quitting at 5 p.m. was not the norm. You worked until the job was done. During these years I gained considerable experience in all aspects of the farm equipment business and proper operations of a dealership. Now was the time to start on my own.
“In 1977, with very limited resources, I was able to purchase a dealership in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, selling and servicing Massey-Gleaner and White Products. In 1986, we acquired the Kubota contract and, today, we are an exclusive Kubota dealer selling over 100 major units per year.
“We have always operated as a family business including two sons, a grandson and my son’s wife, as well as myself at age 83. Our success and our way of operation brought about the 2014 Rural Lifestyle Dealer Dealership of the Year award.
“The ag industry has really changed. The days of small dealerships are changing in favor or large multi store operations. There are many opportunities for young people to play a role in these operations. All I can say to the young people in the business is: Always keep your word, make a strong effort to learn the business, listen to your customers, and make every effort to give them good service. Don’t worry about the clock."