Q. Some dealers have reported lost sales this spring due to equipment shortages from their major-line suppliers. What's the equipment supply situation for your mainline and shortlines in your area of responsibility? How are you handling equipment supply issues with your customers?

A. "The supply issues are terrible. Deere is sold out of their mainstay 8000 series tractors through at least February 2011. We've had major supply issues for 2 years now, with the local Case IH dealer able to bring units from all over the U.S. to sell in our small area. It is killing us. I have some tractors ordered in December or January that aren't here yet. We're out to September or October on stock 6000 series tractors for the orchards in California. Our customers seem to be shopping a lot more than in the past and it will be hard to win their loyalty back in the future."

-Wally Emery, Colusa Tractor, Colusa, Calif.

A. "We've been spending more time on the phone tracking down what we're selling than what it takes to sell it. I placed tractor orders in November and won't receive them until late June or later. We're telling customers that if we don't have it in stock, there's no guarantee when they'll get it. I still haven't received my early-order hay equipment ordered last fall. We've lost close to $300,000 in sales and the ones we transfer in have very low margins to pay for the extra freight."

-Michael Countryman, LS&E, Somerset, Penn.

A. "There was significant jockeying of orders to fill our sold 8000 series tractors. I'm aware of one sale in northern Wisconsin that may cost the dealer a 30-tractor sale. None of us are really sure how we went from unemployed factory workers to where we can't produce any more equipment in such a short time. We're being very up front with our customers. In 99% of the cases, we are verifying factory delivery dates prior to even pricing the equipment. We want the potential buyer to be very aware of the timing of their delivery. Not all factories are delayed and not all models have the same delays."

-James L. Taylor, vice president, Hillsboro Equipment, Hillsboro, Wis.

A. "We're a Massey Ferguson dealer and our most common supply shortage is with the sub-compact tractor and belly mower. We're also experiencing a 6-month lead-time for compact tractors with cabs.

Orders are filling in about 3-4 months so we're just now receiving orders placed in February. There are several factors causing the shortage this year: Pent-up demand from the recession, and the droughts that we had experienced from 2005 to 2008; a very wet year in 2009 and a wet winter and spring in 2010; record snowfall in our region this past winter leading to high demand for small cab tractors that no one could have planned for; and Massey's aggressive retail finance program on compact tractors this spring.

We're definitely experiencing some lost sales because of the shortage of mower decks. Customers don't want to purchase a tractor now and wait 2 or 3 months to mow with it. Customers have bought zero-turn mowers or lawn tractors and postponed their tractor purchase. After several years of slower sales and excess inventory, it's not all bad to have high demand and a little shortage because it helps maintain a better profit margin."

-Kevin S. Dickmyer, vice president, Wertz Farm and Power Equipment, Glen Rock, Penn.

A. "We forecasted shortfalls in late 2009 and thought we were prepared for the spring. As it turns out, we've been blessed by the sales so far, and we're currently in a position with equipment shortages. We have equipment on order and are taking orders from customers, but usually we're looking at a 3-4 week wait. From time to time we lose a sale, but all dealers are in the same situation. We're also offering 6 months with no interest to lure customers to wait on the order."

-Anthony Clark, president, Clark Farm Equipment, Gilbertown, Ala.

A. "Deere has a short supply of most items. In my view, the difference between a shortage and overage is only one. But Deere is especially short when it comes to row-crop and 4-wheel-drive tractors and sprayers. The lead-time for new factory-retail orders is getting too far out. In some cases, we can't even get a ship date. Tractors are on some sort of distribution program that changes weekly because of sales rolling on and off of the formula. It's almost impossible to know if you'll get tractors or not. We're asking customers for decisions farther in advance of the season. If you want a tractor for spring of 2011, we need to be nailing it down now. We're working with in-line dealers to transfer inventory around, but this is always hard and increases costs.

We're prospecting with all of the tools we have to identify customers' buying cycles and get to them well in advance. Knowing a customer will pay off his current tractor next fall, knowing a customer's lease is up next fall and knowing a customer usually purchases every 3 years is key. We're also moving customers to late-model used units until we can get a new unit, which has worked well."

-Rick Linenburg, Vincennes Tractor, Vincennes, Ind.

A. "We've been affected by shortages due to product changes. AMS receivers are out, so we must go to other dealers to get them. The Deere 8R tractors are sold out until January due to the new engine change, but we understand because it's a major change. Price increases due to the rising cost of steel will affect us more in the coming months."

-Joe Delvo, Brandt Holdings, Fargo, N.D.

A. "We'll see a 50% no-fill of our stock-ordered equipment this year from New Holland. Being a smaller dealer I feel that our orders are filling the holes in retailed equipment. If it wasn't for our other brands, this would have definitely spelled the end of our relationship with our so-called major."

-Mark Basler, Farm Equipment Sales, Farmington, Mo.

A. "The dealers that complain about shortages tend to be the same ones who haven't trained their sales force to sell ahead. We're currently booking orders for spring planting and tillage equipment and have almost all of our spring tractors sold and on order. We may lose a sale or two in the spring, but the option of having big inventories waiting for the late comers is not a game we can afford to play."

-Roger Thieme, CEO, Evergreen Implement, Othello, Wash.

A. "We've been able to cover nearly all our needs so far. In one instance, I sold a customer a new 8345R tractor and he felt he needed a larger field cultivator, too. It was way too late to order one from the factory, so I traded him out of his 30-foot machine into a used 44-footer we had in stock. Then I took the used machine I had just sold him back in trade on a new 44-foot, 5-section cultivator that will be here in time for next year. By doing that, it kept him "in the fold" and got him a similar-sized unit that also carries the early-order discount. It also got us a super-clean 30-foot cultivator we could sell this season."

-Dick McCormac, sales, Elder Implement Co., Muscatine, Iowa

A. "It's just nuts with AGCO. We just got mower conditioners in two weeks ago. Three were sold in December and ordered in July 2009 but we're still getting them this late. I have 2 more 9-foot machines sold, and I may never get them. My 3-point disc mowers are scheduled for July delivery, just in time for the fourth cutting alfalfa, even though they're used for grass hay and needed now. Tractors are just as bad. Getting anything of size is impossible. We had a DT225b on order for 18 months and finally settled for a DT205b. The biggest kicker is what they call an F1 marketing hold. If you haven't sold a particular model, they won't ship it to you. Almost everything I'm ordering is on F1 marketing hold."

-Jeff Suchomski, president, Suchomski Equipment, Pinckneyville, Ill.

A. "As a distribution center for Mahindra on the West Coast we're doing fairly well in this regard. Occasionally we've been out of a particular model for a week or 10 days, but generally tractors for approved orders are ready to be shipped within one week, and sometimes the next day. Mahindra has made a big financial commitment to keep a good supply of tractors on hand, and it really has benefitted the dealers. We're running leaner on inventory, so there is the occasional hiccup, but for the most part it hasn't been a problem."

-Dave Siemens, owner, Dave's Tractor, Red Bluff, Calif.

A. "We lost some spring tillage sales to other dealers due to delays in getting new vertical tillage items. We ordered a lot of new inventory last fall. Case IH, our major supplier, has been very helpful in getting new inventory to meet retail demands."

-Steve Schmidt, president, Central Illinois Ag, Atlanta, Ill.

A. "Deere is my primary supplier, and so far, most of my smaller suppliers have been on time. With Deere, I have utility tractors ordered more than 3 months still in "unsourced" status, and no order has a confirmed delivery date. Lawn equipment that should come on the weekly truck could be a month out. Pitiful."

-Leland Epting, owner, Epting Turf & Tractor, Clinton, S.C.

A. "Our lost sales due to shortages of equipment have been very limited. I think everyone expected the volume to be down in 2010, maybe as much as 10% in new sales, but that hasn't been the case. New sales are at or a little above 2009 levels. With sales being better than expected, our supply hasn't been a factor in most cases. We've either had ample orders in place or worked with other dealers and our suppliers to meet the retail demand."

-Mark Foster, ag division manager, Birkey's Farm Store, Williamsport, Ind.

A. "We sell Case IH, New Holland, Claas and various shortlines. It's taken 4-5 extra months to get equipment we that we've sold. But we've only lost one sale from not having the equipment in stock. Some equipment won't be available until the last quarter of the year. If things turn around fairly fast, there's a good chance we would lose some sales."

-Bob Souza, NS Tractor Co., Merced, Calif.

A. "There have been more equipment shortages this year than in the past. In many cases, we've found dealers with available inventory close enough to meet customers' needs. In some cases - particularly with the dairy farmers - customers have been accepting used equipment.

-David Watson, president, Watson's Inc., Hermitage, Penn.

A. "It's been a challenge, but Case IH has been good about switching orders with another dealer and freight assistance when going a distance. We haven't seen too many problems with the shortlines. We've been pre-selling equipment for the upcoming year whenever possible."

-Patrick J. Schoffman, Schoffman's Inc.,
Redwood Falls, Minn.

A. "We're having no problems yet other than being overstocked on 180-horsepower tractors, and we can see a possible shortage on compacts."

-Don Lasley, president Ag and Auto Inc., Lakeview, Ore.

A. "The budget minded tractors that Deere sells are slow coming, but I have the LS series tractors produced by Husqvarna and they've been solid tractors. Compact tractors have been hard to get. I explain to customers that the unit will be coming off the production line and will be the newest serial number and will not be sitting outside getting rusty. In this delicate economy, I've been watching my inventory and have still filled at 90-95%."

-Joe Conte, general manager, Adams Power Equipment, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

A. "We haven't lost many sales this year - yet. We're a large Cub Cadet dealer and the Cub Cadet 1000 series lawn tractors are in short supply. Sales of the 1000 series have exceeded our expectations. Sales of zero-turn mowers have cooled down compared to the last couple years. Certain models of New Holland hay equipment and tractors are apparently in short supply. We're getting a lot of calls from New Holland dealers asking for transfers."

-Mike McCrate, Tulsa New Holland, Tulsa, Okla.

A. "We carry New Holland, Mahindra, Kuhn, Bush Hog, Rhino and Taylor-Pittsburgh, and Bad Boy zero-turn lawn mowers. New Holland tractors are in very short supply. We've brought in tractors from as far east as Georgia just to have inventory to sell. Picking up the Mahindra line has allowed us to keep retail customers at our dealership and close the sale."

-Craig Maitland, sales manager, Kelly Tractor & Equipment, Longview, Texas

A. "We're now receiving some equipment we ordered during the shortages of fall of 2008 and spring 2009, like dump carts, seed tenders and high-horse power tractors. It's still a little slow for sales this year as most of our customers are dairy producers. It would be nice to have less inventory right now. We're running about 10-15% higher on inventory dollars than we normally like."

-Josh Gruett, Gruett's Inc., Potter, Wis.

A. "We haven't lost any deals. We've had to train our staff and customers to buy during the pre-season programs. We also take advantage of most DPFS orders to have a bank of on-hand inventory, or machines on hand, to help satisfy customer needs. My complaint is manufactures supplying machines just in time for the farmer to go to the field. Every spring we have a mad rush to pre-deliver machinery because everyone is itching to get to the field. If they could have machines ready a month before the use season, it would help everyone."

-John Hopper, Codington-Clark Equipment , Watertown S.D.

A. "We're experiencing some equipment shortages that have affected our ability to supply customers in a timely manner. We're ordering equipment pre-season on a "dealer purchase for stock" basis. This presents opportunities and problems. On the negative side is the issue of cash flow and shortened terms, and possibly not having the configuration a customer wants. On the positive side, we do have some equipment to sell we otherwise wouldn't have. We've also been buying late-model used equipment to fill the gap. The availability issue is having an impact on sales and that may continue for the near future."

-Clare Gingrich, salesperson, Elmira Farm Service, Elmira, Ontario

A. "We've been short a few tractors this spring in the 180-250-horsepower range. Sometimes we dealers are our own worst enemies. We can have all the new products we want at the market peak, but it often leads to over-supply of high-dollar used equipment. We've been able to stay ahead of the ballgame by utilizing dealer purchase for stock and forecasting sales 6-12 months out."

-Jeremy Ostrander, A&M Green Power, Glenwood, Iowa

A. "The problem we've had with major-line suppliers is that we ordered equipment 2 years ago when we had customers wanting to buy, and just received the equipment this year. We're searching other dealers' inventory to fill our needs."

-Dennis Covolo, owner, Covolo Auto-Farm Service, Mountain View, Wyo.

A. "Equipment supply has been an issue for some time. We advise our customers to order equipment early or there may be no supply. Overall, this is a better situation since they order machines with the codes they want."

-Neil Stead, sales manager, Reddin Farm Equipment, Stratford, Ontario

A. "As the major manufacturers work to reduce their inventory in the field, we find it a little more difficult to address the needs of our customers. Thankfully we've developed a relationship with our fellow dealers around the country and are able to share inventory."

- Monty L. Holmes, general manager, Foster Motor Co., Pine Bluff, Ark.

A. "Land Pride seems to be the only supplier not shipping to us in a timely manner. They cut their big deal with Kubota and I'm guessing the Kubota dealers are getting tended to first. Good thing they're not our only source for cutters.

-Allen Berry, ACM Tractor Sales, San Marcos, Texas

A. "New Holland is shipping hay tools late, the compact tractor inventory is super-low and the lack of attachments has cost us several sales, and they don't care."

-Houston Randolph, partner, Randolph Farm Equipment, Carrollton, Mo.

A. "We're a shortline dealer and this spring was much better than last, with virtually no shortage concerns. This might be attributed to increased production capacity by our major shortline supplier."

-Clark Tweed, Tweed Farm Equipment, Medora, MB and Bottineau, N.D.

A. "Our main line of equipment is Kubota and we have not experienced any shortages in our main line our or shortline equipment."

-Ron Fletcher, service manager, Shreveport Tractor, Shreveport, La.

A. "I'm a Bobcat dealer and they're out 8 weeks for some machines. Some of the shortlines are out a month on most orders. We're not seeing shipments picking up yet."

-Larry Nevin, manager, Barron Supply Co., Barron, Wis.

A. "We're a Deere dealer and very short on equipment. Compact tractors are 3-4 months out nearly all row-crop equipment is sold out for the year. Our main product line - hay equipment and mower conditioners - is impossible."

-John Maus, Maus Implement Co., Morrilton, Ark.

A. "We have the supply but no one will buy because credit is still tight for customers and some dealers."

-Michael Rasmussen, Rasmussen Equipment, Macy, Ind.

A. "The only issue we've encountered is waiting longer than usual to get skid loaders."

-Doug Miller, Miller Sellner, Sleepy Eye, Minn.