The 2023 recipient of Precision Farming Dealer’s 11th annual Most Valuable Dealership is LandPro Equipment, founded in 2017 with 20 locations across western New York, eastern Ohio and northwest and central Pennsylvania.
Dealerships from across the U.S. 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.
Evaluated criteria included precision farming sales growth and diversity, along with how each nominee is generating revenue from hardware, software and precision service. Less quantifiable elements that define the best precision farming dealership, such as employee training, performance standards, innovation, sustainability and community involvement were also considered.
Previous recipients showcased the diversity of dealerships carving out a successful niche in precision farming, and 2023 highlights the third large ag equipment dealership in LandPro Equipment, and second John Deere outfit to capture the honor.
Employees: 490 (6 dedicated to
Precision Lines Carried: John Deere, Ag Leader, Soil-Max, Greentronix, SurePoint, Dickey-John, 360 Yield Center, Smart Apply
Equipment Brands Carried: John Deere, Stihl, Hardi, Kuhn, Monosem, Turbo-Mist, Unverferth, Salford, Meyer
Precision Revenue Breakdown: 2021 — $2.2 million, 2020 — $1.6 million, 2019 — $1.5 million
When things are perfect, it’s easy to be great. But when adversity strikes that’s when people show their true colors. During one of the most challenging years in recent history, LandPro’s precision farming division didn’t flinch, proving more than worthy of the Most Valuable Dealership honor.
“This past year was a challenge for manufacturers, dealers and teams who are face-to-face with customers,” says Molly Haungs, LandPro Equipment marketing manager. “The word of the year should be ‘grit.’ Our team showed some grit and figured things out. Down the road, when we look back at 2022, we will remember it as the year that solidified relationships because they did what they needed to fulfill customers’ needs.”
Divide & Conquer
Integrated Solutions Manager Ben Flansburg leads LandPro’s team of precision farming specialists, each in charge of their own territory: Adam Stanton, Ike Vorisek, Aaron Kinch, Amanda Spence and Kelsee Soule.
Each territory is worlds apart in terms of cropping practices and tillage methods. By splitting up, the team can focus on the unique needs of every customer throughout the region.
“There are a lot of other organizations that may have 10 locations but only 1 integrated solutions person on staff,” Flansburg says. “We understand the competitive advantage we have with our technology, and that’s why we’ve put so much emphasis on our precision farming division and trying to build our team. Each person works in a territory they’re familiar with, rather than having 1 person responsible for everything.”
Flansburg’s career at LandPro started in 2019, when the dealership purchased his independent precision ag company, BCA Ag Technologies out of Batavia, N.Y.
“At that point Aaron Kinch and Ike Vorisek worked for separate companies that were also purchased by LandPro,” Flansburg says. “When we came together as an integrated solutions department it felt like we were all joining forces at the same time. Creating some stability within the department has been huge.”
The precision team has grown since then and Flansburg expects to bring another specialist on board soon. The dealership is also building a new facility in Batavia — it will have a training center where they can teach employees and customers about new products. The value of a strong precision team is priceless in the eyes of LandPro Equipment CEO Tom Sutter.
“They’re our key to the future,” Sutter says. “Their role is to know everything about the cutting-edge technology and be able to train the rest of the dealership on it. Products that are 2-3 years old can now be handled by our service department. The precision team is responsible for training, demonstrations and working with the sales and service teams. They’re our key to being the technology leader across all our platforms and markets.”
Flansburg’s team has focused more on training and less on technical support over the last 3 years. The goal is for every LandPro employee to have enough knowledge to help customers or direct them to the right teammate.
Every member of the precision team hosts monthly training meetings with their sales department, covering a wide variety of topics, ranging from hardware configurations to data management.
Amanda Spence’s role within the precision division is changing in 2023. As the company focuses more on training, the 18-year veteran will work toward becoming a certified dealer instructor. She’ll develop her own program to teach the sales and service departments about the latest precision technology. Photo: Noah Newman
“I’ve learned so much from them,” Haungs says. “When you have people who aren’t just selling a piece of equipment, but they’re also tasked with education and training on top of it, you realize how unique they are. Because not everybody who knows it can teach it and not everybody who knows it can sell it. Our precision team is somehow able to do both and create relationships with customers at the same time, which makes them very unique.”
The team leaves no stone unturned when it comes to employee development, thinking outside the box to create interactive training sessions. They put together a hands-on equipment training course for LandPro employees at Penn State University in 2022, on the heels of the school’s Ag Progress Days event.
Check Out the 2023 MVD Video Series Online!
Visit www.PrecisionFarmingDealer.com to watch exclusive interviews with members of the LandPro Equipment precision team. Filmed at the dealership’s Avon, N.Y., location, these videos capture the innovative strategies and proven practices utilized by the 2023 Most Valuable Dealership.
The 2023 MVD video series is sponsored by Reichhardt Electronics..
- Understanding the Value of a Good Demonstration
- Being Proactive with Remote Support
- Keys to Building Strong Customer Relationships
- Developing Creative, Hands-on Training Sessions
“Our entire sales department attended,” Flansburg says. “They went golfing the night before and enjoyed a nice dinner. Then in the morning we set up 6 different equipment stations with a chopper, sprayer, combine and tractor — every one of us paired up with someone from sales. We rotated through each station and made it a contest.
“There was a hands-on challenge between groups as they had to complete tasks and troubleshoot technical problems. The winning team took home some prizes. There was a lot of great feedback. It was hands on, it wasn’t just 5 hours of sitting in a classroom somewhere.”
“Our sales team is not going to sell something they don’t understand,” Sutter says. “If they don’t understand it, they’re going to steer clear of it. But by having them complete this kind of training they’re able to gather a better understanding of the technology.”
“We’re planning on holding the course again in 2023 but expanding on it,” Flansburg adds. “We’re going to have a second day and open it up to customers.”
They’re also launching an additional education course with 4 different levels of training.
“It’s voluntary and most of the classes will be virtual,” Flansburg says. “There’s a hands-on test after each course. Knowing where our industry is going, there will be a lot of technicians and salespeople who see the value of the training and sign up for it.”
The Value of a Good Demo
Flansburg recalls horror stories of customers getting new equipment dropped off at their doorstep with no clue or assistance on how to set it up. LandPro’s staff makes sure that never happens and recognizes the value of a good equipment demonstration.
“We understand what a big deal it is for our customers to spend up to $500,000 on a new piece of equipment,” Flansburg says.
Ben Flansburg (L) and Tom Sutter (R) work together closely to make sure the precision team stays ahead of the curve. “Their role is to know everything about cutting-edge technology and train the rest of the dealership on it,” Sutter says. Photo: Noah Newman
“We assist the sales team and show the customer a whole dealership approach to sales and service. We take the equipment to their field and walk through all the technology features with them. We make sure they know how to use it.
“Technology does an operation no good if it’s not set up properly and calibrated every year. We strive to always produce good service for customers, building trust and making sure they feel comfortable with those large equipment purchases.”
The sales team completes a survey with customers to gauge their satisfaction level and interest in the technology after every demonstration. Surveys are then reviewed by the staff to help enhance their demonstration practices.
The dealership is adding a startup solutions service package in 2023.
“It will include startup time for new equipment at our dealership and once it gets to the field,” Flansburg says.
- LandPro’s service packages are billed annually and sold with all precision equipment. The gold package ($1,200/year) includes software updates for GreenStar and Ag Leader components twice per year, on-farm visits twice per year and unlimited phone/e-mail support with access to service units.
- The silver package ($900/year) offers the same unlimited phone/e-mail support and 1 software update and farm visit per year. The dealership is adding a startup solutions package in 2023.
“Every year there are many customers who ask us to come out when they start planting or harvesting for a refresher course to make sure they’re doing everything correctly. That can be a reoccurring revenue piece as well.”
Hardware sales made up 95% of LandPro’s $2.2 million in precision revenue in 2021, with the other 5% coming from service.
All 6 members of the LandPro precision farming division joined Precision Farming Dealer to provide a deeper dive into their operation. Here are some highlights from the conversation.
How have you dealt with supply chain issues and equipment shortages?
Flansburg: We had a team meeting last spring about shortages. We went around the room and asked who needs what to make sure their customers have what they need to start planting. What can we beg for or borrow to make sure no one goes without? We did a good job making sure everyone was covered and no one was sitting and waiting. It may not be the latest and greatest thing, but we’ll search the store shelves and blow the dust off it if we can make it work.
What are some significant changes you’ve noticed over the last 3 years working in precision agriculture?
Stanton: The adoption rate over the short amount of time I’ve been with the company (2 years) has increased dramatically.
Spence: Adoption and acceptance. It’s not just large operations taking it on, it’s the smaller farms as well.
Vorisek: I’ve seen generational changes. The older generation was hesitant to get into precision farming at first, but once they started using the technology, they saw the value in it. Now, they won’t go to the field without it. Instead of fighting it, they’re encouraging others to purchase it.
Kinch: Automation. We have customers who are hesitant, but they’re starting to utilize it. We have a few customers running TruSet and fully automated prescriptions. They trust it to the point where they don’t have to do anything from the cab. They send someone out there to run it. The area I cover is usually a couple years behind, but the adoption rate of new technology has been phenomenal.
Flansburg: The evolution of the John Deere ops center. It’s a free service now. You can tie your entire enterprise with JDLink and machine tracking in one spot compared to other companies that are bits and pieces.
What’s your biggest takeaway from 2022?
Stanton: The customer satisfaction. When we sell a new piece of equipment, I can go out there and make sure the customer is happy. When I’m in my truck headed home that makes me happy, knowing I accomplished something at the end of the day.
Vorisek: LandPro’s dedication to making sure everybody is trained on technology, not just our department. We focused more on training people who are hands on with customers, like salespeople and technicians.
Kinch: I did an informal, hands-on training session with 12 service technicians. I didn’t force them to do it, but just asked them to try. They really saw the value in it. They’ve adapted and the first thing they do now is log into the ops center and see what’s going on. People have also seen how efficient they can become by utilizing remote service capabilities.
Flansburg: Adoption within our organization. The hands-on training session with our sales team was a huge eye opener for me. Looking at the feedback, people really wanted to learn about the technology, and understand it to better help their customers. Before this year I thought maybe nobody liked the technology and they’re just pushing it off on us. But now I know that’s not the case at all.