One or two lifetimes ago, I had a secretary who had a tendency to bring family and personal issues to work. At one point, she ranted for weeks about how the big chain stores were pushing her father’s corner drug store out of business. She didn’t think it was fair and didn’t want to hear the retail world was changing.

She said her father, who was a pharmacist, was not interested in working for one of the chain stores. He just wanted to hang on to his little business until he retired.

It wasn’t long before her father was out of business and out of a job because he couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to the changing marketplace. Shortly thereafter, she, too, was out of a job because she couldn’t or wouldn’t shut up about it.

Farm equipment dealers have gotten to know all too well the pain and discomfort of an industry in transition. How dealerships are handling the changes has been a major focus for this magazine.

Over the past few years, we’ve heard from dealers who aren’t happy about the changes taking place around them. In some cases, they’re not happy we’re writing about “those big dealers” who are emerging and their “high-falutin’ management matrix.” Some even claim they have “zero interest” in reading about the inner workings of these multi-store groups.

We appreciate those sentiments and understand the frustration that goes with them. We also encourage dealers to express their opinions and we welcome criticism because we need to know what dealers are thinking. It gives us direction. A difference of opinion is always healthy and shows this industry is alive and dealers are willing to say how they feel.

Nonetheless, it’s our responsibility to present information about changes taking place and the approaches dealers at all levels are taking to adapt to the changes.

We aren’t rendering value judgments about profiled dealerships and how they operate. We’re simply giving you a chance to know about them and how they operate. You can make up your own mind whether their approach is something you can learn from or not.

In our special “Dealership Minds” issue in February, we looked at how Precision Equipment prepared itself to expand by going out and getting the talent it needed to grow its organization. In this case, few on its Senior Leadership Team have much experience in farm equipment retailing. But they all had proven management skills to offer. They just happened to have honed them in a different industry.

In this issue, we provide an in-depth look at Cervus Equipment Corp., one of the larger ag equipment dealer networks and one of the few publicly traded farm machinery retailers in North America.

It represents yet another dealership management model in the making. All of its top executives are seasoned veterans of the ag equipment business, and the company puts enormous emphasis on growing its own managers from within. Cervus believes this is the most effective way of dealing with the changing dynamics of an industry in transition.

Next month, you can read about a 100-year old dealership whose CEO is the fourth generation of the founding family. In this case, the father stepped aside at a fairly early age to make way for his sons in the business. That’s not something you see every day.

So, who’s right and who’s wrong? We won’t know until we find out — and maybe not even then. But we’re going to continue writing about them because we believe our readers deserve to know.


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