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  IN THIS ISSUE                              FEBRUARY 2014 
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Champlain Valley Equipment 
Headquartered in Middlebury, Vt.


A day-in-the-life exploration of a small
dealership in the midst of getting bigger

For our once every-two-years Dealership Minds project, Farm Equipment revisited the operation that was recognized in 2006 as North America’s best-run small (one- or two-store) farm equipment dealership.

There are a number of things different about Champlain Valley Equipment, but what peers from other parts of the country are most surprised to learn, says President & GM Brian Carpenter, is its low average dollar transactions and the jack-of-all-trades sales force.

“This is not like the high horsepower tractor, spraying, planting equipment and combine-type dealers you see in the Midwest,” he says, noting how other dealers are floored by how many various products a dealer in this area of the country needs to carry under one roof to fully serve a highly diversified customer base. His counterparts in the Midwest might have one salesman doing the same level of sales revenue as his entire 4-store company.

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Over the past 20 years, Champlain Valley Equipment — now a 4-store operation — grew at an annual rate of 14.8% as its staff increased from 9 employees to 86 today

If we do a transaction that’s a couple hundred thousand dollars, that’s a monster transaction for us. Our top salesman is doing $3.2 million, and with most transactions being $10,000 or less, you’ve got to do a lot of transactions to get there,” he says. The 4 stores comprising Champlain Valley Equipment carried out 2,913 transactions in 2013. “The requirements placed on a salesperson here — as far as his breadth of knowledge and the number of transactions — are a real challenge.”

Another thing Carpenter’s peers are surprised by is the restrictions in the state. Carpenter had secured a loan for a new, larger shop so it could better handle forage harvesters, but the permitting process was so long that he returned the money he had borrowed. It would have resulted in new tech jobs, but is on hold for now, with hopes for better success next year.

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The Farm Equipment editorial team (l-r) Cole Vandermause, Mike Lessiter, Michael Ellis, Brad Hemze, Jack Zemlicka, Dave Kanicki, Kim Schmidt, Alan Stenum and Darren Foster

Profiles from the Issue:

President & General Manager
Brian Carpenter
Leading with Structure to Minimize Chaos in Fast-Paced Business

Centralized Warranty Clerk
Marcellus Cubit
Making Manufacturers Pay Takes Patience & Persistence

Partner & General Manager Derby Store
Josh Provost

Watching the Numbers, Keeping an Eye on the ‘Little Things’

Used Equipment Remarketer & Salesperson
Rick Rusin

Championing the Used Equipment Dossier — for Higher Turns

Store Manager, Berlin Store
Tom Wood
Store Management: Facilitating Others’ Success

Partner & General Manager, St. Albans Store
Jason Bessette
Fostering a Vision Beyond Sales

Senior Parts Manager, Middlebury Store
Jeff Randall
Parts Management: Keeping Others Running

Service Manager
Aaron Keeler
Service Sales Hinge on Keeping Wrenches Turning

Parts Manager, Derby Store
Ben Hamilton 

The ‘Numbers Guy’ Preps Parts

Parts Manager, St. Albans Store
Tim Curtis 
Embracing Technology for Efficiency

Service Manager, Derby Store
Bill Hodgeman

It’s All a Matter of Managing the Changes

The Essentials of Champlain Valley Equipment Photo Gallery


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