It’s easy to preach a top-down commitment to develop a profitable precision farming business. But how much of an investment — both financially and time wise — does that really require from ownership?
Managing a dealership hasn’t gotten any easier in recent years, and leadership within large and small-store operations are still scratching their heads over where to take their precision business in the future. But there are those who have taken an active approach in recruiting tech talent, holding employees accountable and creating a culture of collaborative expectations.
During a dealer-to-dealer panel discussion moderated by ag dealer consultant George Russell at the 2020 Precision Farming Dealer Summit on Jan. 6-7, 3 executives share their experience-based insights on building and broadening a progressive precision business.
Speakers for this panel include:
Tom Rosztoczy, President and CEO, Stotz Equipment (2013 Dealership of the Year). Founded in 1947, and now has 25 locations covering Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The dealership’s precision farming department has grown from less than $1 million in revenue in 2016 to over $4 million in 2019. The 17-person team now offers a mix of services including data automation, fleet optimization, imagery analysis, moisture sensing, precision land forming and agronomic services.
“From a pecision standpoint, our objective is simple,” Rosztoczy (far left) says. “Our customers should outperform their peers.”
Kevin Hemmelgarn, store manager, Apple Farm Service. Seeking a defined approach to increasing revenue and employee retention within its precision business, 4-store Apple Farm Service took action to overhaul its structure, requiring a top-down investment from management to be active leaders. With annual revenue of about $35 million — including about $450,000 on the precision side — getting company-wide buy-into its precision plan is a work in progress. But Hemmelgarn, who has been store manager of the Botkins, Ohio, location since 2013, has helped shape the new vision for precision department, which includes cross-training between departments to alleviate precision burnout.
“We’re going all-in and starting with management learning and developing a more in-depth knowledge of precision farming to better understand and have more credibility,” Hemmelgarn says.
Rob Schmidt, COO, TruAcre Technology, Muscatine, Iowa. Schmidt has been a leader for the independent precision dealership since its inception in 2014 and helped establish a reputation for providing colorblind ag tech advice, based on in-field trials and product test plot analysis. Along with the support of an administrative team, he oversees day-to-day operations of 5 full-time precision staff who increased annual revenue to $3 million in 2019 and developed a unique sales process which includes a detailed interview process with customers to evaluate needs vs. wants.
“Our colorblind service and technology support simplified agriculture for our clients,” says Schmidt. “But we aren’t just a technology company, we are out there working with farmers every day, helping with their technology.”
Co-located with the 28th Annual National No-Tillage Conference, the 2020 Summit will be held Jan. 6-7 at the historic Union Station Hotel in St. Louis. Among the Title Sponsors making the learning and networking opportunities possible for dealers are Ag Express Electronics, Copperhead Ag, DigiFarm VBN, Laforge Systems, RealmFive, Reichhardt Electronic Innovations, Topcon Agriculture and Yetter Farm Equipment.
For more information and to register for the Summit click here. We’ll see you in St. Louis!