It was exactly 1 year ago today that Ward McConnell of Art’s Way Mfg. passed away at 89. As a tribute to a longtime friend, encourager and “advisor,” the Video Department here at Lessiter Media fast-tracked a new project that’s been in the works for years. Click on the image below to see the 13-minute Pilot Episode (#1) of “How We Did It: Stories from the Independent Farm Equipment Innovators.” 

This episode is a very personal one on a friendship borne out of my first Farm Equipment Manufacturers Assn. (FEMA) / Farm Equipment Wholesaler Assn. (FEWA, now known as EMDA) Convention back in 2004. It was a few months after we acquired Farm Equipment and 2 other magazines, and Ward stopped by our booth and grilled me with a “purchasing warrior” negotiation strategy on an Ag Industry Watch subscription (now Ag Equipment Intelligence). After years of going through that same drill twice a year (Spring and Fall Conventions), we offered him a first-ever “lifetime subscription” to avoid the ongoing standoff. He scoffed with smirk and reply of, “Why Lessiter, would I at age 76, need a lifetime subscription?”

Executive Editor Dave Kanicki and I broke bread with Ward, wife, Linda, Marc and others from Art’s Way many times at industry events over the years. Somewhere along the line, Ward and I started a tradition of an early morning walk at each FEMA meeting -- and continued it for 10 years or so without interruption. We told Marc and Linda it was our “business consulting hour.” Upon return to the hotel, I’d thank him. Right on cue, he’d remind me his 60 minutes was offered free of charge (back to subscription haggling again). And I’d reinforce to him that you always end up getting what you pay for. 

Soon, we’re hoping to launch a documentary style series that will give new life to the important lessons, principles and wisdom of the family-run farm equipment manufacturers who pioneered so many of today’s advancements as they persevered through dire times.

Thanks in advance for watching -- and for your feedback. And raise a glass to Ward today!

— Mike Lessiter, President, Lessiter Media Inc., Editor/Publisher, Ag Equipment Division