After over half a century of selling John Deere products, a longtime family-owned dealership notified its customers last week the producer of the famed green and yellow farm and garden maintenance tools has decided to cut its ties with the business.
Russell G. Brown, president of Ken Brown & Sons Inc., 38235 Route 37, said he was recently notified by John Deere that sales of the Illinois-based company’s products must officially end Oct. 1.
“I got a letter back quite a while ago hinting at it, but we continued on,” Mr. Brown said. “But the day has come where they’re terminating our contract.”
The Ken Brown & Sons owner, whose father Kenneth started the family business in 1958, said John Deere’s decision not to renew its dealer contract with his family’s business stems from the manufacturer’s apparent effort to consolidate its dealerships.
“You’ve got dealers that own multiple stores and they’re eliminating dealers on the fringes or having that person go in and consolidate with them,” he said. This is going to be a lengthy process to go through.”
Due to repairs and services the company does, in addition to selling John Deere products geared toward lawn and garden maintenance, Mr. Brown says business has been more than sustainable since it first opened its doors.
“The business, since 1958, has been profitable, it still is profitable and always would have been profitable,” he said. “My concern is with the employees and the customers having to drive anywhere from 20 to 80 miles round-trip to get parts and service.”
Many of the employees of Ken Brown & Sons, which moved from its original location in the village of Theresa to its current headquarters in 1980, have worked there for over 20 years.
Mr. Brown said while the closure of the John Deere dealership leaves an uncertain future for employees, customers and his family, he intends to keep his doors open to service products and order parts. The business is expected to completely phase out of its status as a dealership within three to six months.
“As long as we’re here, we’re going to do what we can to service the customer,” he said.
Proving the loyalty of his customer base, Mr. Brown said several of them wrote letters to the John Deere headquarters in opposition to the company’s decision and that sales have increased “greatly” over the past week.
Mr. Brown said he is planning sales on current John Deere inventory and looks forward to his business remaining as much of a part of the community as it has been for over five decades – in whatever form that may be.
“If something happens in the meantime and we have the opportunity to continue on with something else, we’ll do that but it’s not a guarantee.”