If the number of nominees for this year’s Dealership of the Year is any indication, dealers are beginning to recover from the ag economy downturn and feeling more confident about their businesses.
After comparing all of the nominees, the judges made their decision and the 2017 Farm Equipment Dealerships of the Year are: Reynolds Farm Equipment, a 7-store group based in Atlanta, Ind., in the over $75 million in revenues category; and Greenland Equipment, a single store in Carman, Man., in the under $75 million revenues category.
The winners were chosen from a pool of over 100 North American dealers. Nominations were submitted by dealers, employees, customers, Dealership of the Year alumni and equipment suppliers.
In addition, the judges also named BTI, Washington Tractor and JL Farm Equipment as “Best-in-Class” dealers for 2018.
By the Numbers
Combined, these four dealers accounted for $551,674,027 in total revenue in 2017. Revenues per employee for the group came in just over $706,000. Together, they also produced an average parts and service absorption rate of 86.2% for the year. The return on assets for these top dealers averaged 8.1%.
As for the 2018 Dealerships of the Year, Reynolds Farm Equipment produced a ROA of 11% and an absorption rate of 75.5%. According to the judges, Reynolds had “by far the strongest ROA of all dealers” in the over $75 million in revenue category. Greenland Equipment reported a ROA of 19.63% — the highest of all nominees this year — and an absorption rate of 103.3%.
Dealership of the Year Judging Panel
The challenging task of choosing Farm Equipment’s annual Dealerships of the Year falls on three highly experienced and qualified individuals who comprise the Dealership of the Year independent judging panel. Not only do these experts take on the responsibility of choosing the top dealers each year, but they also advise and give guidance to Farm Equipment’s editors on criteria for the program.
The Tradition Continues
Farm Equipment’s Dealership of the Year program was established in 2005 “to elevate farm equipment dealerships that are leading in best practices, operations management and customer care.”
Since that time, 28 dealerships from the U.S. and Canada have been honored as the Dealerships of the Year. They are joined by 40 dealers who have been recognized as Best-in-Class dealerships. Together, these dealerships make up Farm Equipment’s Dealership of the Year alumni group and are instrumental in nominating their fellow dealers for recognition.
Two of the judges — Dave Kahler and Dave Downey — have been part of the program since it started 14 years ago. Both have decided to step down as judges after this year.
Commenting on the trends he’s seen over the years, Kahler says, “When taking a long look at the major changes in Dealership of the Year nominations from 2005-2006 to this year 2017-2018, I personally felt that the 2018 nominations would be a lot younger in terms of the years established. My reason for this was because of all the consolidations, and name
changes in the last 5 or 6 years. That was simply not the case. The average longevity of the 2006 nominations was 46.2 years while 2018 came in at 47.7 years — actually older. This was very surprising to me.”
While the age of the dealerships has not changed significantly over the years, Kahler says there was a drastic difference in the number of locations per nominee. “From the first year of my judging, it averaged 3.7 locations per dealer. In 2018 it nearly doubled to 6.6 locations per ownership group. It was even more drastic when I compared the Large Dealerships (over $75 million) as they were at 8.8 locations per ownership group in 2018. This is a major change over the last 14 years.
“With the drastic increase in the number of locations, also came a drastic increase in the total revenue per nominee. Would you believe the average revenue grew by over $75 million per nominee in 14 years from $30,791,666 to $106,507,939? That is a 243% increase. Yes, inflation has a lot to do with that increase, but probably not as much as the increase in the number of location per dealer,” Kahler says.
“In summary, the last 14 years have revealed several changes and evolutions within dealerships. Dealers have gotten much, much bigger in terms of total revenue and the number of locations per ownership group,” says Kahler. “The most disappointing areas were absorption rate did not change much and dealers ROA’s actually dropped.”
The judges agreed that this year’s nomination class was “by far the closet competition we’ve ever had and the best (overall) class of good dealers … This year’s quality was outstanding. All of us said we spent more time this year in judging than ever before. That is a direct result of this year’s outstanding quality,” says Kahler.
Words from Past Winners
“First, let me say that the experience of being Dealership of the Year has been very positive and rewarding. It challenged us, humbled us and gave us new determination to get even better. It also had a significant impact on how people viewed us through the hiring and recruiting process. It gave folks outside our industry a much better understanding of what we really do, including our financial partners. And finally it allowed us to share many ideas with our other dealer contacts as they reached out and asked questions relative to reading the article and viewing the videos. Bottom line, this was a big deal for the Van Wall Team!”
— Don Van Houweling, owner/CEO,
Van Wall Equipment, Perry, Iowa (2016 Dealership of the Year)
“Being named Dealership of the Year brought a great sense of pride to the entire dealership and has only increased my appreciation for the team working at Salem Farm Supply and for the significance of good human capital at a dealership. Dealerships of the Year are built on good ideas and good people. I am grateful that Salem Farm Supply has both.”
— Carol Lewis, General Manager,
Salem Farm Supply, Salem, N.Y. (2015 Dealership of the Year