The 2019 recipient of Precision Farming Dealer’s seventh annual Most Valuable Dealership is Crystal Valley Cooperative, based in Lake Crystal, Minn.
In total, 29 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.
Most Valuable Dealership Alumni
2013 Brokaw Supply Company Fort Dodge, Iowa
2014 South Dakota Wheat Growers Aberdeen, S.D.
2015 Ag Info Tech Mount Vernon, Ohio
2016 Hoober Inc. Intercourse, Pa.
2017 Southern States Cooperative Richmond, Va.
2018 Central Valley Ag York, Neb.
Previous recipients of the honor showcased the diversity of dealerships carving out a successful niche in precision farming, and 2019 once again highlighted another uniquely innovative retailer in Crystal Valley, marking the fourth time a farm cooperative has captured the honor.
Few dealerships have been immune to the economic challenges posed by the last few years. But the 2,200-member cooperative founded in 1927, has managed to maintain — and in some cases — grow revenue, thanks to increasing diversity of products and service flexibility.
Much has been made about dealers returning to the agronomic roots of precision farming and creatively incorporating data-driven services into foundational hardware support. Crystal Valley has averaged $75 million in agronomy-generated revenue from 2015-18, and been able to navigate market instability by adhering to the philosophy that the co-op has an obligation to deliver solutions with bottom-line benefits for their customers.
“It’s difficult in today’s industry to find a single product or service that will add 10% to an operation’s bottom line,” says Jason Leary, ag technology lead for Crystal Valley. “The silver bullets have been spent, and we work together with customers to identify the next ten 1% changes to implement on their farm.”
As noted by the judges, Crystal Valley is “using data to make decisions for customers” and are innovating and adapting to meet farmers’ technology needs, with an eye toward long-term growth and development of its 79 precision and agronomy-focused employees.
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 who comprised the independent judging panel. This year’s group included Dr. Harold F. Reetz Jr., owner of Reetz Agronomics LLC; John Fulton, associate engineering professor at Ohio State University; and Thomas Krill, founder of 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 series and served as co-coordinator of the International Conference on Precision Agriculture in 2008 and 2010.
John Fulton, Associate Professor, Food, Ag & Biological Engineering Dept., Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio Fulton spent more than 10 years at Auburn University in its Biosystems Engineering department, prior to joining Ohio State in 2014, where his research and extension responsibilities focus on precision agriculture, machinery automation and use of spatial data to improve crop production.
Thomas Krill, Owner, Precision Strategy LLC, Pettisville, Ohio For more than 20 years, Krill has worked in the precision agriculture industry as a collegiate instructor, sales manager and research and development team member for farm equipment manufacturers and an agronomic consultant. Krill currently works as an independent strategist with Precision Strategy LLC.