Although I am well into my adult years, I can’t say that I’ve ever felt old.
Maybe it’s a combination of optimism and denial that keeps me young at heart, but I have no doubt the day is coming when age becomes more than just a number for me.
So it was both comforting and fascinating to immerse myself for a few days in the youthful precision farming culture at Ag Leader’s annual dealer event in Iowa.
With more than 300 attendees — the majority easily younger than my 35 years — the early December event put many of the people who will shape the future sales and service of farming technology under the same roof.
“You won’t see a lot of gray hairs in here,” one precision specialist from Indiana told me. “We’re basically a bunch of kids.”
But those “kids” have grown up with technology — from iPhones to Xboxes — and are well positioned to thrive in the precision farming business for years to come.
I was reminded at the Ag Leader event of one of the primary reasons why this is true.
“We are the ones who can talk to the next generation of farmer and understand what they want,” a young precision specialist — six months on the job — from Missouri told me. “Those are going to be valuable relationships to form for guys like me.”
The ability to support the technology behind precision farming products is crucial to providing quality service to customers, but there is also something to be said for being able to relate on a generational level.
As the transition from traditional to tech-savvy farmer continues, precision farming dealers have a chance to be the entry point for the next wave of technology buyers.
By sharing a generational appreciation for the value technology provides to farmers, dealers can leverage that bond into long-standing business relationships.
Safe to say, some will take advantage of this opportunity more than others, and an excellent reputation still goes a long way toward sustaining customer loyalty.
But as dealerships continue to populate their precision departments with recent graduates or interns, the landscape for new customers will become increasingly competitive.
The Ag Leader event drew a record number of dealer attendees and many precision managers I spoke with there say they plan to add staff in the coming year.
“It’s definitely growing and I see a lot of new faces every time I go to events like this,” one Ag Leader event attendee told me. “Five years from now, who knows how many of us there will be.”
But even though precision farming specialists are in high demand now, it’s never too early to start solidifying relationships with farm customers who will be calling the shots in the future.