Back in the fall of 2007, Rural Lifestyle Dealer debuted with the aim of helping dealers identify and adapt to an evolving market where a new type of buyer was taking on a significant role. As then-managing editor Dave Kanicki put it in the inaugural issue, “The hobby farmer, the rural lifestyler, the large property owner — representing the most significant growth market for farm machinery during the past half-decade and for the foreseeable future — require a different kind of approach.”

Dealers needed to adjust their approach from something resembling a business-to-business mindset while selling to production farmers, to one more akin to a retail environment where customers required more education and, frankly, a bit more hand-holding to make the sale. The payoff being that if they were willing to take that time to get someone in the right piece of equipment and earn their loyalty, there’s an evergreen customer coming back with their wallets open for service and sales for many years to come.

In the ensuing years, we’ve visited with many dealerships from across North America, in all different sizes, representing every color and brand imaginable, to learn what they’re doing to earn and keep their rural customers’ business. For instance, Blue River Tractors, the 2016 recipient of Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s Dealership of the Year honor, is one of those successful dealers (see the profile on page 14.) A relative newcomer in the rural equipment game, Blue River has achieved success with a “three-legged stool” management philosophy; a customer-needs selling approach; and an environment that fosters employee loyalty by treating them like family. It’s a formula that has led to exponential growth and to being recognized as this year’s outstanding dealer.

"A sincere thanks to you, our loyal readers and valuable advertising partners, for a great first 10 years…"

In spending time with Blue River, I was reminded that at its core, the rural equipment business is about much more than just moving pieces of iron. It’s about the people whose lives are being enriched or made easier by that equipment and the role dealers play. The successful rural equipment dealer is a trusted resource for customers — you help them earn a living, or beautify their communities, or work their properties and hopefully work smarter, not harder, so they have some time to play and enjoy family.

It’s a “people-first” business and as Kanicki said in that first issue, “Customer care is number one.” For the past 10 years, we’ve been honored to hopefully play even a small role in helping you serve your customers.

A mentor of mine once said the most important question you should be asking yourself is “What’s next?” As the level of sophistication of equipment and customers continues to increase, ask yourself what you need to do to keep pace with that evolution and establish a dealership with a lasting legacy.

We not only welcome your feedback, but we openly seek it so we can continue to evolve with you and your business for many years to come. Let us know what you’re seeing out there and feel free to send your thoughts on what we’re doing to

A sincere thanks to you, our loyal readers and valuable advertising partners, for a great first 10 years and we look forward to delivering many more successful strategies for dealers in the years ahead.