Just within the last few weeks, there’s been plenty to keep one’s attention, both in and outside of the farm economy. For a while up until the first debate, even the presidential election seemed to be fighting for attention. Here’s just a few things we’ve been watching as we put together the final edition of 2020.

Ag Picture Continuing to Improve. Encouraging news is coming from dealers on gross margins and early-orders (see Dealer Business Outlook & Trends on p. 12) and for the farm economy, including a boom in exports and a corn pricing threshold ($3.75/bu.) that Cleveland Research Co. says stimulates new machinery purchases.

Dealer M&A Keeps Going. A review of our “Dealers on the Move” section showed 7 acquisitions in the last 3 weeks, an average of one every 3 days. The “bigs getting bigger” is certainly at play, evident through Tellus Equipment Solutions’ acquisition of 21 Ag-Pro stores in one deal.

Changes at the Top. Retiring this quarter are AGCO CEO Martin Richenhagen (12-31) and John Deere Vice President John Lagemann (10-31). One thing to be counted on with these exits is that the new guard will usher in changes for the dealer network. And changes at one OEM influence the others, too.

New Market Entrants. Implement manufacturers Aguru and Farmada, from veterans of DMI/Case IH and Great Plains Manufacturing, respectively, both met with our editors in recent weeks to discuss their commercial launches. Even in the era of big business, entrepreneurs still see voids on which to place their bets. Both believe they can compete for Corn Belt farmers via differentiated products and go-to-market strategies, and pushed their R&D and testing through during the recent years’ downturn.

The Year of Few Events. Among the most felt absences was the Fall rite of passage — Farm Progress Show — that have been staples of so many calendars. With nearly all live trade shows (and most conferences) canceled starting in March, the knowledge and tech transfer they carry out must have suffered. When you think of the innovations first shown and seen, the lightbulb moments, or new acquaintances met that can provide perspective, the absence of these events is profound — yet unquantifiable. Dealers could be relied upon to make the connection more than in the past, and may enjoy some pent-up energy.

The learners and doers always find a way, of course, and realize the advantage they can attain over their peers. We had a front row seat to this, of course, with our Dealership Minds Summit (DMS), which had to pivot from an in-person to virtual gathering due to COVID-19. As Machinery Advisors Consortium’s George Russell (who presented at the inaugural DMS and the 2020 event) put it, “The virtual DMS, in some ways may be a better solution for interacting and learning ... Time will tell about the changes in strategy and tactics that dealers will make after the DMS. They could be even more meaningful in 2020 than in 2013 because of these factors and the ability to review the sessions afterward and network with new thought leaders.”

Our annual coverage of the Dealership Minds Summit and this year’s theme of “Profit-Turning Trades” starts on p. 28, although this year’s is absent of the roundtables and other networking type of photos, which instead took place through our event app. 

If you still want to absorb the content at your own pace, you can still register at DealershipMindsSummit.com and receive on-demand access to this resource on used equipment through next July. Also be sure to check out the agenda for the Precision Farming Dealer Summit within this issue, which we’re excited to bring to Indianapolis again in January.