It’s not news that the precision farming market is shifting. However, the news earlier this week that CNH Industrial was acquiring Raven Industries certainly came as a surprise. With Raven’s recent launch of its OMNi brand and autonomous growth platform, it certainly wasn’t on my radar.
In fact, I heard through the grapevine that it wasn’t on most people at Raven’s radar either, with only something like 10 people being in on the talks — or aware of them — with CNHI.
CNH certainly isn’t the first major line OEM to acquire a technology company. In 2017, AGCO acquired Precision Planting from The Climate Corp. and John Deere acquired Blue River Technology.
In the case of Precision Planting, it didn’t change much from a distribution standpoint. It certainly bolstered AGCO and its technology offerings, but non-AGCO dealers still were able to hold on to their contracts. Will the same be true for Raven dealers?
As we’ve been saying for a few years now, with more equipment coming with technology installed off the line, dealers have needed to shift their approach to the precision business. As consolidation continues (and I suspect it will), what impact will that have on both how dealers do business and also what their business even is from a precision standpoint?
“Getting the team to buy-in and be proactive to just how fast technology will change the farming/dealer landscape in the next 5 years. Even with my high expectations, I may be underestimating the disruptions coming…”
At the same time, technology is changing fast and staying on top of it can be increasingly difficult. In this year’s Benchmark Study we asked dealers what the biggest challenge facing their operation in the next 12 months was. Keeping up with technology — and more specifically keeping up with training staff on new technology — was a common theme in the responses.
“Getting the team to buy-in and be proactive to just how fast technology will change the farming/dealer landscape in the next 5 years. Even with my high expectations, I may be underestimating the disruptions coming,” commented one dealer.
To attack this challenge, a number of dealers have recently shared their plans for “mainstreaming” precision through the whole dealership. In 2020, 21st Century Equipment launched a campaign to equip all departments with essential precision knowledge to mainstream its integration of ag technology from the bottom up, explains CEO Owen Palm.
But that takes time, as Sydenstricker Nobbe Partners CEO Ted Briscoe notes, “I came into this organization in the early thrust of mainstreaming. We set up training programs in three different levels of knowledge people need to have and defined a base level everybody had to have.
“Unfortunately, I’ve realized that it’s not something you do over a couple of quarters or even a couple of years. Technology continues to change, and you also have just some turnover with certain people. That is an ongoing challenge, an ongoing educational process,” he says.
You can read more about the approach SN Partners is taking parallel to the idea of mainstreaming in the latest Day in the Cab article.
As we all adapt and navigate our way through the shifting precision market, I’d love to hear from you about the approaches your dealership is taking. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-777-2431.