Many years ago, we were invited to Louisville, prior to the National Farm Machinery Show to a 'think tank' meeting with the Gehl Brothers and some financial folks they invited. Gehl (pronounced Gail) was a major player in the hay and forage market. Gehl was a nice sideline and really catered to the dairy businesses. 

During our lunch, the conversation turned to the 2000 presidential election. After listening to each, whose homes were way above the Mason-Dixon line, extol their opinions I could not remain silent. While I did not have a translator, I did my best to pronounce my r’s and articulate that the former governor of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, was a candidate. His qualifications were governor, secretary of education and president of Univ. of Tennessee. The only negative was — he was short.

I stated his greatest asset was that, if elected, he would dismantle a bunch of the departments at the Federal level and return the power to the states. One such was the Department of Education, which has the same bureaucracy at each state level. He would shut down 90% of the D.C. department and send the saved money to the states and local LEA’s. Money is best spent closest to the object at which it is directed. 

They thought a minute and then one by one agreed. One wiped the dessert from his mouth with a napkin and stated, “That is an outstanding position, a great idea, why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?” I spoke, "I apologize, I may have baited you on this, but someone DID think of this a long time ago, but your Great Great, Grandaddy's shot the heck out of my Great, Great Grandaddy's for thinking like that!" To which, I was grateful that the joke was well received and laughed at to the point that the other table wanted to know what was so funny. 

The results of the meeting were that the Gehl company said they were going to dominate the forage market. Six years later they exited the ag market — go figure. 

We also sold Homelite products. Blowers, string trimmers, saws etc. Our rep, who was excellent, came in one day and was on top of the world. He had a new John Deere shirt on and told us Deere had bought Homelite and Green machine and they were going to dominate the market. The next time he came in he took a Deere embossed paper, threw it on the floor and stomped on it. Deere had fired everyone, closed the plant, moved it to Mexico then sold it. Go figure.

We were an Allis-Chalmers dealer. Their theme was, “We are the Rising Power in Farming.” AC got sold to the Germans. Then the Germans sold it back to AGCO. Can you still go figure? We were a New Idea dealer — it was bought by AGCO as was White and Sunflower. We handled Long tractors — they went bankrupt.

We grew weary figuring. The supplier sides? The head of AC went to IH. The founder of AGCO came from the IH truck division, the head of Kubota comes from AGCO, the former head of Case IH came from AGCO, the head of Claas came from AGCO, AGCO’s second top dog came from Class, and now several top AGCO folks come from Deere. Deere's top person came from KPMG — Can you say musical chairs?

I could go on but the point of all this is there is no machine out there that spits out the products we buy and sell. Every company is run by folks just like you and I — human “beans.” The only difference in most companies, churches, civic groups or dealerships is the names and faces, the rest are just “people,” like you and I and we are all a lot alike. Let us all keep this in mind as we deal with our “brands” that we depend on to make business possible and profitable.

Until next time we are wishing you miles of smiles and profits — and keep figuring.


Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. —  Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.



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