Jason Behrend, Integrated Solutions Group & New Business Development Manager, explains the new precision ag initiatives at Stotz Equipment, one of less than a dozen dealers in U.S. who has achieved John Deere Phase 4 recognition.
Formerly known as Arizona Machinery, AA Equipment and Greenline Equipment, Stotz Equipment is a 23-store, family-owned John Deere dealership group headquartered in Avondale, Ariz., that covers an 8-state footprint. In the fall of 2012, we started a new department, the Integrated Solutions Group (ISG), to fully encompass John Deere’s FarmSight Strategy.
One of our main goals in the ISG department is to provide goods and services that enhance and support our core business— selling iron. We are seeking ways to move from commodity selling to value added selling and to further strengthen our relationships with our customers. With these goals in mind, we have developed 4 areas of focus with regard to precision agriculture. From zero employees last fall, the ISG now has 5 full timers with immediate plans to reach 16.
Our goal is to provide continuous RTK coverage across our Ag AOR. This will allow our customers to more economically afford the benefits of sub-inch accurate, repeatable guidance for their operations.
Currently we are about 75% of the way toward having complete coverage for our Arizona AOR, and 50% complete for our Northern AG AORs. We have selected strategic locations to place our towers and have built redundant power supplies to guarantee worry-free, continuous uptime availability of the corrective signal. We have also upgraded the towers we acquired during our expansion to ensure those towers meet our specifications.
As new business development manager for Stotz Equipment, Jason Behrend spearheaded the development of Stotz's Integrated Solutions Group.
Customers rent or lease our signal for their guidance needs. Renting the signal eliminates the upfront price barrier that has been cost-prohibitive in the past for many of our customers. This service provides more customers access to the highest level of signal — greatly increasing their pass to pass effectiveness and efficiency. Bottom line, they become more profitable.
Value Added Services
This area of focus is on services and products such as JDLink, 3-3-1 programs, maintenance agreements, and AMS Support agreements. With JDLink, we provide fleet analysis focusing on idle time versus working time, percent of horsepower used on a tractor or percent load, safety and operational codes, and maintenance scheduling.
With one of our annual roll customers, we recently showed that 50% or more of their time was spent idling. These roll customers pay by the hour, so this significant idling time was nonproductive and drastically increasing their expenses. This information we provided will save them tens of thousands of dollars, including restructuring the lease or simply informing their labor to turn the unit off when the tractor isn’t in use.
Another example of JDLink’s power came when we noticed a warning code for low voltage with another customer. This code continually repeated itself. As planting approached, we sent a tech out to the farm to look into it. As a result we replaced the alternator under warranty and the customer experienced zero down time during planting.
The 3-3-1 program is 3 years of PowerGard (Extended warranty), 3 years of JDLink Ultimate, and 1 year of additional dealer-provided services such as maintenance agreements, AMS Support, field mapping, and machine optimization. These services are listed under JDQuote Menu Selling plans and are offered on every eligible unit sale.
The AMS support agreement gives the customer 24-7, 365 days a year access to our AMS support specialist for all things AMS, such as “I cannot remember how to set my AB line,” or “my Autotrac is not steering properly.” Any AMS issue that does not require service advisor or actual machine wrenching is covered by the agreement for $1,500 per year.
This area of focus is for both internal company personnel and external customers. Internally, every store has a parts and service person identified as an AMS focus person. This specialist will be certified twice a year as well as each Ag sales person. The ISG team will be conducting these training sessions. Our goal is to mainstream AMS knowledge and keep all employees up to speed with this fast-changing market and technology.
We will also provide 3 levels of customer training. The first level is basic AMS training for beginning users. The second level is an intermediate course for more advance users. The third level is a customized training program, held at the customer’s location, and tailor-made for this customer’s needs.
We recently sent a specialist to train all of a large customer’s farm managers on how to utilize JDLink. This training included a case study on their fleet as well, helping them to identify almost $100,000 in reducible fleet costs.
Integrated Solutions Consulting
ISG Consulting focuses on all things precision agriculture. This can include infrared imaging, geo-spatial analysis, geo-referenced soil and tissue sampling, yield mapping, variable rate planting, spraying, irrigation, EC mapping, and wireless soil moisture and constituent monitoring.
Currently we have several moisture probes with weather stations out in our territory. These probes measure soil moisture levels every 5 minutes and send the data wirelessly to any web-based device. From there the customer and ISG team can make customized irrigation schedules to maximize yield and quality by applying only what the plant needs when it needs it. We are testing an additional sensor suite that measures rainfall, leaf wetness, wind speed, and evapotranspiration (ET) rates to get an in depth picture of real-time field conditions.
More information on Stotz Equipment can be found in the July/August 2013 Farm Equipment.