Ranchland Tractor & ATV in Saucier, Miss., has conducted a remarkable turnaround, culminating with earning Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Dealership of the Year in the single-store category. In less than 8 years, David Holman, a new owner from outside the farm equipment business, conquered the monumental challenge of a complete culture overhaul in an older, established dealership.

Holman’s background in the finance industry has taught him what he doesn’t want to duplicate at the dealership, such as excessive staff meetings. “I’ve stayed in meetings my entire career in finance. At the dealership, I talk to every manager on a daily basis, but we don’t sit down with an agenda. We don’t have enough staff to shut down, so we’d have to do it after hours and I don’t want to keep people late. Everybody knows what their role is and they do a good job.”

The team sets goals toward the end of the year and Holman talks to each manager about accomplishments, what percentage of growth they can achieve and if more employees are needed. He asks for their “wish lists” and checks what the budget will allow. 

Holman continues to focus on finding employees who share his culture. “When we get a resume or application, it goes to the department head and they determine if the person has the right skill set for the job. I’m not big on job hoppers. Somebody that’s been at one job 9 months and another 6 months will keep doing the same thing. I’ve been told by recruiters that I am wrong, but we put so much effort into schools, certifications and on-the-job training, I want somebody that values the job and our stable work environment. We never have arguments and you rarely hear a curse word or yelling. That’s the way we want to keep it. If somebody comes in causing friction, they have to go. We want a calm environment where everybody likes coming to work and enjoys what they’re doing,” he says.

Benefits include health insurance and a 401k, where the dealership matches up to 5% of an employee’s contribution. “I came from an industry where almost every business had a 401k and health insurance and I wanted to offer those benefits. It took several years to build profitability before offering services like that,” he says.