The World Health Organization declared COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, as a pandemic on March 11. See the plans that dealers across North America have in place to keep their employees safe, while still serving customers — either in the store or at their sites.
Check out their ideas and resources to strengthen your own plans. (Click on the dealership name to go directly to their section.)
- Central Equipment Co.
- Weagant Farm Supplies and Topline Trailer & Equipment Sales
- Birkey's Farm Store
- Northeast Agri Systems
- Castongia Tractor
- Windridge Implements
- M.J. Naquin
- Eis Implement
- Coleman Tractor Co.
- Stotz Equipment
- Elite Ag
- Lashley Tractor Sales
- Vahrenberg Implement
- S&H Farm Supply
- Hull Bros.
- Redline Equipment
- PrairieCoast Equipment
- Coleman Equipment
- Cervus Equipment
And, let’s keep this conversation going. Share what you’re doing in the comments section below.
Jason Huber, Central Equipment Co., Lexington, Ky.
“First of all, we met with our management team to discuss ways we could make our dealership safer and cleaner. The result of that was asking an employee who wasn’t feeling well to go home and stay there until we had notice from their doctor that they were allowed to be around others.
“We have added multiple hand sanitizer stations around our dealership for customers and employees to use. We have asked all employees to give a minimum of 3 feet of personal space between themselves as well as to not shake any hands with each other or customers.
“We also are trying to lead customers to use our website more for quoting of new equipment, ordering parts and using curbside pick up of parts, new units and even calling in our service department to come to their car to either check in their unit or load without them having to come inside.
“We have wireless credit card readers for our mobile service techs and are utilizing them with our service writers, so, again, customers have no need to come inside the dealership. We also are allowing customers to schedule after-hours appointments with our sales teams so they can have a one-on-one interaction without the worry of being around a lot of other customers.
“We released this statement on social media and emailed it to over 2,000 of customers and have already been receiving phone calls requesting curbside pickup and after-hours one-on-one meetings, and we’ve seen an increase in online parts ordering.
Here is a link to our Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/CentralEquipment/.
Next, we are working on digital marketing to support our efforts. We will be pushing these messages out to the folks who “like” our pages since so many are already customers.
“We will also be doing more digital marketing to push customers to manufacturers’ sites that allow them to search product catalogs, but complete the purchase. We will be pushing them to John Deere, Cub Cadet, STIHL and Honda dealer websites where they can buy and even do financing. We’re just trying to make it as easy for people to spend money at our dealership during this pandemic.”
Weagant Farm Supplies and Topline Trailer & Equipment Sales, Winchester, Ont.
Weagant Farm Supplies sent this letter to its customers outlining its response policies, including its sanitation policies, delaying special events and using a sign-in form to track in-store visitors. The letter reads:
Thank you for your continued cooperation as we all learn to adapt to the reality of a pandemic. We are open for business, but business cannot be as usual. To ensure everyone’s safety, we have new employee guidelines.
Our employees are performing regular wipe downs of surfaces. They have been advised to stay home if they feel sick.
We are performing in shop service but are being careful to wipe down steering wheels and controls. Road service is being limited to “essential service” only. If our road mechanics are at your farm, please place your machine in a location that will minimize personal contact. Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from our service technicians. If a job needs two people, let the service department know and we will send a second person.
Feel free to contact any of our sales staff by phone, text or email. Trades may be viewed by phone, video, Facebook or other virtual means. Let’s embrace technology to stay connected.
Our parts staff is on site. Consider ordering your parts by email or phone or text. We can put your parts in a box outside the gate after hours. We can load your truck bed while you stay in the cab. We can courier your parts or make other arrangements to get them delivered. We want to work with you, and to do it safely.
We are recording the name and phone number of all visitors to our locations. If we have identified a case at our location, we will contact you by phone.
Open House events are being rescheduled into June or later. Dates will be published.
The transition of ownership of the Winchester store to Delta Power has been moved to August 1, 2020.
Thank you. Weagant Farm Supplies Management
Mike Hedge, Birkey’s Farm Store, Urbana, Ill.
Birkey’s sent the following communication to its customers.
At Birkey's, we love our customers and take very seriously our role as a responsible employer and place you choose to shop. As part of Birkey’s commitment to help protect the welfare of our employees, each of you and the broader public, we wanted to share with you the precautions we are taking across our stores in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Our thoughts are with all who have been impacted by the Coronavirus. While we take pride in our everyday practices to maintain a clean environment within our Birkey's store locations, at present, we have implemented additional measures that reflect the recommended standards of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to the Coronavirus. Stores have been sent disinfecting kits with supplies to address this change.
In our stores, all high touch and high traffic areas are being sanitized regularly. We are also actively communicating with our employees about the role each of us can play to help prevent the spread of any germs, including thorough hand washing, avoiding contact with people who are sick and, of course, staying home if they are not feeling well.
While our stores will remain open and our employees ready to serve you, we are encouraging customers to call in your parts orders or shop online at www.birkeys.com/parts. We'd be happy to set parts outside or provide curbside pickup during store hours. Simply call or text when you are at the store and we will be glad to bring the parts outside to your vehicle.
At Birkey's, we have a 65+ year legacy to uphold — one that rests on doing what is right to build trusting relationships for generations to come. I want to thank you for your support and understanding during a rapidly evolving situation as we make every effort to support our customers, associates and the communities we serve.
Mike Hedge President and CEO Birkey's Farm Store, Inc.
P.S. As a reminder, Parts Days at Birkey’s are still going on until the end of March, you can save 10% off most parts, save 20% off select tillage parts plus 25% off Fleetguard filters & coolants. We're also offering an additional $2 off sweeps on top of the existing 20% discount.
Ag-Pro Companies shared this communication:
"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our top priority at Ag-Pro. We continue to monitor federal, state and local communications. While we always strive to provide our customers with a clean environment, we have taken additional measures at this time to reflect the recommendations given by the CDC. We are operating under normal business hours and are here to serve our customers however they choose to shop. For customers who may not want to come into the store at this time, we have several options:
- Ag-Pro Portal offers the ability to purchase parts from anywhere at any time.
- You can sign up at www.agprocompanies.com/top-menu/ag-pro-portal and log in directly at www.AgProPortal.com
- Ag-Pro Buy Online option https://e-marketing.deere.com/store/ag-pro
- Ability to sign contracts electronically and coordinate delivery of equipment to your home with ease!
- Our website www.agprocompanies.com is a great place to search inventory, browse new equipment offerings, view parts specials, etc. Fill out our “Request a Quote”, “Contact Us”, or “Learn More” form and a representative will be in contact via email or phone call.
- We’ll be glad to bring your parts out to your car for you. Just call and request that the parts department bring your purchase to you curbside.
We want to assure you that we are taking this very seriously and are committed to providing our customers with the most seamless customer experience possible during this time. As we continue to learn more about the virus, we will communicate with our sales staff and make changes as needed. Please watch Facebook and emails for future updates.
We thank you for continued support and allowing Ag-Pro the opportunity to serve you.
The Ag-Pro Team
David Newman, Northeast Agri Systems, Lititz, Pa.
“Since we work with poultry and hogs, we always have strong biosecurity protocols. Of course, we have asked employees to stay home if they are sick. We do not have a work from home policy.”
Jon Castongia, Castongia Tractor, Rensselaer, Ind.
“We decided to cancel our spring seeding clinic. I am in the middle of drafting my communication to our customers. We are also establishing an emergency paid time-off fund, jointly funded by employees and the company to assist any employee who needs to take care of themselves or a loved one who may be battling COVID-19, so that they can still receive a paycheck.
“We have supplied all of our stores with hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes and distributed communications to our employees on our emergency fund and information from the CDC and the Indiana Department of Health on things they can do which could lessen the potential chances of them getting the virus.”
Eric Norschow, Windridge Implements, Cresco, Iowa
Windridge Implements has taken the following action.
- Posted Federal COVID-19 site and posters for personal suggestions.
- Purchased hand sprayer and daily spray bleach mix on high use and restroom areas at end of day to air dry overnight.
- Purchased 1 month supply of spray disinfectant and refills for counter parts and service use areas as well as lobby doors and such to use daily.
- Personally gave each employee an information pack to dispel myths.
- Posted restroom wash areas with correct procedure posters,
- Brought to a mindful response level with discussion and such so we are more prepared for public health ideal outcomes.
Mark Naquin, M.J. Naquin, Thibidaux, La.
“We are cleaning up our counter and eating area. We always cleaned, but we are stepping it up. We are putting two sanitation hand cleaners in the walking path.”
Jon Eis, Eis Implement, Two Rivers, Wis.
“At this point we are business as normal. I really like this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It’s a rational explanation that a person can relate to on an individual level. I shared it with our employees today as step #1 of our preparedness plan.
“From an employer standpoint, I utilized this article from the law firm Foley & Lardner to help shape our company’s preparedness plan, 10 Things Employers Should Do to Deal with the Coronavirus.”
Jason Searles, Coleman Tractor Co., Nashville, Tenn.
“I would say we have taken the common sense approach. By that I mean from watching and listening to local doctors and a fraternity brother of mine who is an infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt, we have come to the conclusion that we are going to continue to operate normally.
“For us, that means normal business hours, continual pick-up and drop off of equipment, and normal staffing levels. We have INCREASED our contracted cleaning services from once a week to two times a week, provided hand sanitizer at each sales, parts, and service desk and eliminated the hand shake for now. Instead of a shake, we are opting for the elbow bump or wave. Staff are also encouraged to use the provided Clorox wipes to wipe down their desk, phones, and other surfaces daily.
“We have communicated to our entire staff our position, which also very closely mirrors Kubota’s operations stance. And, we have further instructed our staff that if a family member living in their household becomes sick to remain home 24 hours to see if the symptoms improve or worsen. We require staff to remain at home until they are free from fever, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. for 24 hours.
“Despite the coronavirus now being present in Middle Tennessee, thankfully, no employee has tested positive or has the virus that we are aware of. We will continue to monitor changes in the market and our communities.
“Right now, we are committed to remaining open to fulfill our customers’ equipment needs — especially in Nashville where the clean-up from the EF3 tornado will be going on for many months to come. The needs remain strong for chainsaws, grapple, and other equipment needs.”
Kyle Schneider, Stotz Equipment, Bluffdale, Utah
Stotz Equipment has the following policy in response to the COVID-19.
- No air travel is allowed through the end of March and possibly longer.
- Employees are asked if they are not feeling well to work from home if possible.
- Limit exposure to customers. Call to schedule appointments with customers and ask permission to come onto the farm.
Adam Verner, Elite Ag, Leesburg, Ga.
Elite Ag shared these policies with their employees. In addition, the management team has in place a laddered response plan in place based on a low risk situation to worst case scenario. Download the document.
Please stay home if you’re feeling unwell:
- Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not to come into work until they are free of fever, and free of any other symptoms for at least 24 hrs without the use of fever-reducing medicines. Employees need to notify management if you are sick and staying home.
- If a family member becomes sick with a respiratory illness, please notify management immediately and a plan will be formulated.
- If you come into work and start to feel unwell, please notify management immediately and go home.
- Please wash your hands on arrive to work, and frequently throughout the day
- You will be required to wipe down your work area at the beginning of the work day and end with provided wipes or bleach wash. Wiping down workstations, countertops, doorknobs, keyboards, tools. Anything you think can harbor germs.
- Wear gloves provided while cleaning and wash hands immediately
- Sing a full song of “happy birthday” or 20 seconds while washing hands
- Use hand sanitizers frequently if out of the truck and beware of what you touch.
- Possibly maybe even wear gloves to fuel vehicles. (Hand sanitizers must be 60-95% alcohol.)
Jeff Lashley, Lashley Tractor Sales, Stonecrest, Ga.
“Here is the message we sent to our employees:
I’m sure you have all been inundated with information on the coronavirus (COVID-19), so this message is meant to relay specific information on our company’s plan moving forward.
- If you have a cough, sneeze or fever — STAY HOME. Once you have been symptom free for 24 hours and not requiring cough medicine for fever-reducing drugs, you may return to work. In the event we identify that you are at work and displaying symptoms, we will send you home. Most cases of coronavirus are relatively mild, so most of us, if we got it, would be okay. What we don’t want to do is spread it amongst ourselves and put someone at risk that is older or has other health-related issues.
- We will implement a daily cleaning regimen in our offices to reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading from surface contact. Only use the devices at your own workstation. Do not use someone else’s desk, phone or computer.
- In the event that someone at one of our offices is diagnosed with the Coronavirus, we will immediately shut down that facility and send everyone home. We will clean that facility to remove any viral contamination and reopen once it is in a satisfactory state. We’ll ask for guidance from the health department relative to testing for our employees that work at that facility.
- In the event that we are required by the government to shut down our business, we will comply with those measures. For those employees that can do productive work from home (including training), we will continue to pay as normal. For those employees that can’t do productive work, we’ll have you use PTO to allow for continued compensation.
We’ll monitor the situation daily and adjust our plan accordingly.
“After that email, we ran into the question of an employee who had a cough, but said it was due to allergies. They asked if they would be paid for their time out (and not under sick leave), since typically they would have worked in these circumstances.
“As a result, we amended the coughing item to be a cough with fever. We have paid employees that we asked not to come to work due to our concerns about their cough and didn’t deduct that from their sick time, basically not penalizing anyone while we try to sort things out.
“Also, we later asked that employees go through us for distribution if they have something they want to email to their fellow employees.
“Last night all of our local schools in Metro Atlanta closed for 2 weeks. As a result, we are working on a case-by-case basis with employees regarding childcare issues, essentially allowing remote work if it is possible with the position. We are not yet saying that all employees that can work remotely, should work remotely.
“Locally, there is essentially no testing available, which puts us in a really difficult position of somehow monitoring everyone’s health in accordance with the information we receive from the CDC and WHO, without actually knowing if someone has COVID-19. I’m not very optimistic that this isn’t going to go out of control in the short-term as we haven’t even overcome the lack of testing, much less the possibility of quarantining them apart from their families in a facility for that purpose.”
Doug Vahrenberg, Vahrenberg Implement, Higginsville, Mo.
“COVID-19 is a concern, but the media is over-blowing the situation. The common flu infects more people and kills more people annually and we don’t blow it out of proportion. It’s business as normal and the biggest thing is assuring customers we are open for business and taking care of their needs.
“99.9% of the customers are claiming the overreaction of the media. It is affecting their bottom line as it has reduced commodity prices. We have seen an increase in sales over the last few weeks with taking a positive stance that we are not worrying about the virus. Business as usual … full steam ahead to take care of the customer first.”
Eric Schnelle, S&H Farm Supply, Lockwood, Mo.
Here’s the message that S&H Farm Supply sent to its team members and customers:
“We know the coronavirus situation is a concern for our S&H team members and our customers and feel it is important to let everyone know the steps S&H is taking to keep our staff and employees safe and our facilities clean. It’s important for us to pay attention to our local environment & react accordingly.
- We encourage each of you to pay extra attention to your health and environment throughout this time period. Some simple things we can all do are to eat well and get plenty of rest. Our best defense is a healthy body!
- Practice enhanced hygiene, wash your hands and disinfect touched surfaces regularly (phones, door handles and knobs, parts counters and keyboards). Starting immediately, each store will start wiping down and sanitizing surfaces 3 times per day, such as door handles, bathroom areas, counters and other contact surfaces.
- It is the responsibility of each of us to evaluate our individual health daily, and if we feel sick, to stay away from others. Should you feel sick, we strongly encourage you to stay home.
- If you are out of sick days, please contact your store manager for additional sick days that are available.
- Knowing that schools may close for 2 or more weeks, please discuss any concerns or challenges you may face with work and childcare schedules, so we can plan our work flow accordingly.
We will also start communicating to customers that we will have these options available if needed.
- Curbside pickup for parts/hardware purchases.
- EZ Buy options for equipment and lawn mowers, ATV/UTVs and compact tractors. Customers can call/text what they want, fill out our online credit application or call with the info and we can deliver the unit to them and do all paperwork on delivery. If the delivery is beyond local, we can talk about any delivery fees. We currently do this when asked or as needed, but will promote these options.
Going forward, we all should stay informed and work toward developing solutions for customers who may be uncomfortable coming to a business environment during this time. We will continue to monitor what’s happening locally and adjust and communicate our plans as needed to continue to keep everyone as healthy & safe as possible.
Thanks for everyone’s cooperation & understanding.”
Jill Vaughn, Hull Bros., Fort Recovery, Ohio
“I’m honestly going to try and answer this without being rude. Hasn’t every news station, radio, website and whatever else we look at told us how to deal with this? If our employees are sick, they are asked to stay home, the same as we would have asked any other day. During flu season we wipe door handles more often. If we notice a customer is sick, we wipe down the counter where they were located.
“I think if people would shut down social media, this entire thing might go away a lot quicker. It is a bit scary how quickly the media has put this country into turmoil. I do believe it is a real thing, but I also believe that the media has blown it into mass hysteria. It honestly makes me sad for our country and this world that we can be so manipulated.
“Why don’t we just use common sense?”
Cathie Hartung, Redline Equipment, Archbold, Ohio
“Redline Equipment is being proactive in their approach to taking steps to safeguard our employees, customers and their families. We conducted a company-wide conference call and posted this announcement on our website and social media. An email will be going out to our customers later.
“We are keenly aware that farmers need to get crops in the fields and Redline Equipment is ready to assist in any way possible.We have taken extensive measures to keep our stores disinfected to minimize any exposure to our employees and customers. We are also ready, as always, to provide remote service and continue to stand by our motto: Any season. Any reason. Any time.”
JD Frame, PrairieCoast Equipment, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
PrairieCoast Equipment sent out this notice to customers:
“As the current COVID-19 situation continues to develop, PrairieCoast Equipment has implemented many steps to protect our employees and customers. Our teams have detailed guidelines on COVID-19 safety and awareness. Specific workstation sanitation steps have been escalated along with branch cleanliness procedures.
“Business travel for our employees has now been restricted to domestic travel and only by vehicle where applicable. The protection of our employees, their families and our customers are of greatest importance. We will continue to monitor this situation and adapt and inform as the situation changes.”
Bruce Coleman, Coleman Equipment, Bonner Springs, Kan.
“We have weekly meetings with our managers to create guidelines for everyone. We are following the CDC guidelines. Everyone has a cleaning responsibility, so that doors, entrances, restrooms, phones and counters are cleaned at least twice a day. Anyone with a symptom of a cold, the flu or virus are sent home until they recover.”
Scott Johnston, Agriculture Canada, Cervus Equipment, Calgary, Alberta
Cervus Equipment shared this communication with its customers.
Dear Cervus John Deere Customers,
The headwinds for all of us in the agriculture sector have gotten stronger with the new challenge of the COVID-19 virus. We want to ensure you that Cervus Equipment will continue to support your farm with product support, Precision Ag services and equipment purchases during the upcoming growing season.
At this time, recognizing that our service to you is critical in producing the protein and food our country depends on, we will be maintaining a business-as-usual approach at our stores, with the health and safety of our employees and customers as our top priority. We are following the directives of the Federal and Provincial health authorities as well as taking steps to protect our customers and employees, attempting to help prevent the spread of the virus.
We’ve increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting our locations, including controls and entrances and removed self-serve options such as popcorn and coffee from our showrooms. We are asking employees to properly sanitize surfaces in their workplace and practice proper hand washing for those that feel ill to stay home and refrain from meeting with customers.
Training and Events
We are limiting physical contact and larger gatherings that could help the virus to spread. We have cancelled all customer training events in March and April and put precautions in place to minimize the spread of the virus for staff training that was previously scheduled. As a company, we have also paused all air travel and non-essential business travel for our team.
To ensure a consistent supply of the necessary equipment and parts to meet your needs, we have been assured by John Deere and other suppliers that we will have the correct supply chain in place to get you the right parts.
While we appreciate the value of meeting in person, if you are not feeling well or prefer not to meet face-to-face during this time, we have the following available to help meet your needs.
All parts and shop supplies can be ordered online 24/7 using the Cervus Customer Portal for pickup at any Cervus John Deere location. Parts orders can also be placed via phone to your local dealers’ location and can be pre-picked and set aside for you to quickly pick up. Our on the road Product Support Sales Reps can be called upon to review and stock your Parts OnSite cabinet at your farm alleviating you having to come to the dealership.
Service requests can be submitted 24/7 using the Cervus Customer Portal and service requests can also be placed through our website or via phone to your local dealership location.
Precision Ag Services
Equipment data, field information and setup files can be accessed using your MyJohnDeere.com account. Precision Reps are available for your pre-season data and field set-up needs via phone or on-farm visit.
Equipment inventory can be viewed online at cervusequipment.com/john-deere. One Ag Sales and Turf Sales Rep will be available on a rotating basis at each of our 21 store locations during regular business hours. All of our sales teams will be accessible via cell phone, text and email communication to serve your equipment needs. John Deere Financial inquiries and payment information can be accessed through your MyJohnDeere.com account.
In this fast-changing environment, communication is critical. We are committed to moving forward with timely communication between our customers, team and suppliers to stay on top of this situation. We recognize that the past year has presented several challenges for your farm. Cervus Equipment is committed to being an ongoing partner, to your farming operation with parts and service, Precision Agriculture services and equipment. As a partner, we have a long-term obligation to work with you to ensure a successful growing season in 2020 - We are committed to finding new ways to adapt in order to deliver exceptional service.
Thank you for the ongoing privilege and opportunity to work in partnership with your farming operation.
Vice President, AG Canada