From the Desk of Lynn Woolf: Janaury 6, 2015

New eras, big boxes and unhappy customers are among the top stories of 2014, according to you. We pulled the list of Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s most read stories for the year and Kubota’s strategy to enter the large ag market tops the list. (Check out the list of our Top 10 stories here.)


“We are not just a small tractor company anymore,” Masatoshi Kimata, president of Kubota Corp., told nearly 4,000 dealers and employees at the 2014 dealer meeting in October. Part of that new era includes Kubota’s first entry into the skid steer market. Kubota dealers listed skid steers as the #1 product they would add this year, according to our 2014 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Report.

The #2 most-read story hit close to home as dealers and manufacturers weighed in on the editorial, Customer Service That Loses Business. Is an unhappy customer with a repair or warranty issue an opportunity for you — or just another reminder of the drain warranty work puts on your service department? Read through the comments when you have a minute and let me know what side you stand on.

Then, big boxes: Hustler’s decisions to sell at Lowe’s and Home Depot were the #3 and #4 most-read stories of the year. It’s another issue that pits dealers against manufacturers and goes back to warranty concerns. Kevin Carson, owner of Charlottesville Power Equipment, Charlottesville, Va., says, “This is my 16th year owning this business and every time a manufacturer does this, they say it’s a ‘win-win’ because of brand awareness and market share — that we as dealers will have more brand awareness and will sell more parts. They are absolutely wrong.”

In terms of the large retailer strategy, it can’t be a them vs. you approach because I’m afraid dealers would lose out in the long run. Hustler dealer Patti McDaniel-Saia of McDaniel’s General Merchandise in McHenry, Miss., says it best, “We as small business owners have to be able to adapt and look at the market as a whole.”

What would you like to see your manufacturer offer that would take the sting out of big box competition and help you adapt?

The rural lifestyle market is not without its challenges, but everything points to 2015 being yet another strong revenue year for dealers. I want to thank you for your willingness to let us peek inside your dealerships and share your stories with our own dealer network at RLD. I’m sure many of you know the 4-H slogan, “To Make the Best Better.” That’s our promise to you.

Happy New Year!

Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer