The 2015 recipient of Precision Farming Dealer’s third annual Most Valuable Dealership is Ag Info Tech, based in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
In total, 61 U.S. and Canadian dealerships including large and small farm equipment dealership groups with precision departments, independent precision operations and co-ops were nominated by their farm customers, precision equipment suppliers and their own employees.
We asked an independent panel of judges to evaluate precision farming sales growth and diversity, along with how each nominee is generating revenue from hardware, software and precision service.
The judges also analyzed less quantifiable elements that define the best precision farming dealership, such as employee training, performance standards, innovation, sustainability and community involvement.
Diversity & Dedication
As the ag industry cycles into a slowdown, commitment to precision farming technology is likely going to be a differentiator for dealers looking to truly capitalize on sales and service opportunities. Hardware is still the backbone of the industry, but the savvy to diversify product offerings, while developing complimentary support options for farm customers, is what distinguished Ag Info Tech from other nominees this year.
The single-store, independent precision farming dealership appears well-positioned to weather any prolonged economic unrest in the ag industry. CEO and founder Tim Norris, has perpetually varied the company’s range of hardware and equipment by adding products, which may not be considered mainstream precision tools. At the same time, Ag Info Tech has steadily added staff — doubling in size from 5 to 10 employees during the last 3 years — and evolved services to include the launch of a customer relationship management (CRM) platform for retrieval and analysis of farm data.
Creating multiple, recurring revenue streams is the goal for Norris and his team, which has grown the dealership’s service revenue from 13.2% in 2013 to 17% of total precision sales through October 2014. Equally important is leveraging those touch points with customers to solidify long-term partnerships, not singular business transactions.
As noted by the judges, Ag Info Tech demonstrates a unique, but successful blend of calculated risk-taking, innovative product development and understanding that serving the best interests of farm customers is the foundation for profitability.
Most Valuable Dealership Judging Panel
The challenging job of choosing this year’s Precision Farming Dealer Most Valuable Dealership went to 3 highly experienced individuals that comprised the independent judging panel. This year’s group included Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr., owner of Reetz Agronomics LLC, Terry Brase, president of BrASE LLC, and Thomas Krill, precision farming consultant at Precision Strategy LLC.
Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr.
Owner, Reetz Agronomics LLC, Monticello, Ill.
Reetz has nearly 40 years of experience as an agronomic consultant in the areas of high-yield cropping systems, precision farming technology and on-farm research. From 1995-2009, he was the lead organizer for the InfoAg Conference and served as co-coordinator of the International Conference on Precision Agriculture in 2008 and 2010. He currently serves as executive director of the International Society of Precision Agriculture.
President/Educational Consultant, BrASE LLC, Solon, Iowa
Brase spent 15 years as professor of Agricultural Geospatial Technologies at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is considered one of the leading academic instructors of precision farming techniques and tools for graduates entering into careers as precision specialists at farm equipment dealerships or agronomic retailers. In 2014, he launched BrASE LLC, an educational consulting company designed to assist agriculturists in developing their geospatial technology skills.
Consultant, Precision Strategy LLC, Pettisville, Ohio
For more than 20 years, Krill has worked in the precision agriculture industry. His diverse roles include collegiate instructor, sales manager and research and development team member for farm equipment manufacturers, and an agronomic consultant. Krill currently serves as a member of the Agriculture Management Team at the Kenn-Feld Group in Ohio and Indiana. He also works as an independent strategist with Precision Strategy LLC, and as a consultant and instructor with Jerkins Creative Consulting. Krill’s expertise is in the practical application of best management practices utilizing precision technology within the agronomic production arena.