In addition to holding clinics, the dealership plans to make the space available for local groups and non-for-profits events, Birkey says.
Expediting Parts Pick-Up
The new facility was designed with the customer in mind, to provide the best service possible. Taking this into account, the new facility has two different service counters — one for its farm customers and one for its “internal” customer, the service tech. One is in the back of the showroom and readily available for walk-in customers and one is behind the scenes with a window to the shop for the techs. Keeping the areas where customers access parts separate from where the service techs get theirs is more efficient for both.
A new inventory system is also helping improve the service department, Read says. With the move to the new facility, the dealership made the switch to a flat horizontal storage system for all its fast-moving parts. The parts receiving area was designed with high ceilings to accommodate larger items. Birkey also says this allows for more efficient storage per square foot on the floor. The upstairs inventory area has a floor made of five inches of concrete and is used for harvest and tillage parts.
More of the Same
The bottom line for the new facility is it will allow the staff at the Henry location to do what it's good at sell equipment and service the customer.
Read Bros. put a tremendous effort into building customer relationships, and that won't be lost with the acquisition, Birkey says. Jerry will focus on sales and building and maintaining customer relationships.
The power of this operation in terms of its growth has been in Jerry's ability. He's an outstanding product guy and an outstanding customer relations and sales person. He just has this tremendous ability to do that, and you can't find that everywhere, Birkey says. He couples his farm equipment knowledge, his farming knowledge, with his ability to communicate well with customers, which builds strong relationships. What he does and how he does it is a model of how it should be done.
Jason Hecht, who previously served as the store manager at the Annawan, Ill., location, has joined the Henry staff as store manager and will handle the administrative side of running the operation, allowing Read to do what he does best — focus on the customers and making sales. Birkey says Hecht was at the Annawan store for three years and has a solid understand of the companys systems. Prior to joining Birkey's Farm Store, Hecht worked for Case IH for 12 years. He brings a lot of positive transition and direction, and he'll do a great job, he says.
A state-of-the-art facility, Read Bros. sales experience and dedication to customers combined with Birkey’s Farm Store’s support network has this newest Birkey's location poised for success.
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They had been planning this new building for a long time. Our two companies have been in dialog over the years, explains Birkey. Bob and Jerry thought about the future of their dealership for several years and were thinking about how they could continue to develop a plan for succession for the operation. Their personal succession was obviously an important part of that. But the bigger picture was how would they continue to keep the ball rolling, so to speak, for their operation. They believed that in order to take care of the employees and customers for the future they needed to be a part of a bigger organization. Birkey's Farm Store was the most logical fit.
The new 41,000-square-foot building sits on 17 acres, and was designed as a multi-purpose facility, keeping its resale in mind. One of its most impressive features is its geothermal heating and air system.
A First-Class Facility
Investing in a more expensive heating and cooling system not only reduces energy costs in the long run, but improves shop productivity and helps in recruiting high-caliber talent.
A separate expo center allows the dealership to run customer clinics and meetings away from the shop, without disrupting service operations.
Make use of a dedicated parts counter for service tech needs, which allows them to get parts without interrupting customer service. It also creates a better experience for the customer.
I've gone out there at night to turn out the lights and they are already off. It was just the nice bright moon shining through, says Bob Read, former co-owner of Read Bros., who has since retired.
Expo Center Adds Dimension
Another impressive aspect of the new facility is the expo center, which got a lot of attention from Case IH. The 2,200-square-foot room can hold up to 200 people and will be used for clinics and meetings, Jerry Read says. The dealership has already held two clinics since the new facility was completed in March. The most recent was a combine clinic in August. It usually holds two or three clinics during the year, which cover combines, tractors, planters and sprayers.
The expo center has exterior windows in addition to windows that look into the showroom.
The advantage of the expo center is it provides a separate area from the shop where you can hold combine clinics and meetings for customers, Birkey says. Traditionally, you segregate a part of the shop for these events and the meetings disrupt the shop to some degree. This way you're able to keep the shop guys running. That's probably the biggest benefit of the expo room, outside of the display component.
Building for the Future
When Jerry and Bob Read designed their new facility they knew they were building a farm equipment dealership. However, in the back of their minds they were thinking how it might be used for other purposes. So, during the design process, they made sure the state-of-the-art facility was multi-purposed, keeping the buildings resale value in mind, according to Bob Read.
We knew one day it wouldn't be a farm equipment dealership, so we built a multi-purpose facility, Jerry Read says. We decided we wanted to make a building that would be appealing to any business that might one day come to Henry.
The building was strategically placed so that there is plenty of area surrounding it for parking and storage on any side. Jerry says this way the building could be expanded in any direction, as need dictates. This is also why they set the building off the road as far as they did, he says. With that in mind, the south end of the building is expansion ready. You can remove the outer skin and make the building longer. Instead of 300 feet, you could make it as long as you want just by taking out the two large back doors, Jerry explains.
Bob Read says the facility could easily be converted into a truck shop in the future. The doors are higher than you would ever need for truck service; you could pallet anything in here, he says.
Fire codes made it necessary for the retail area to be separated from the parts department. There also needed to be a sound barrier between the two areas to keep the noise from the shop out of the retail space. For this reason, the Reads designed the building with a brick wall between the showroom and shop that can be removed if need be. While this satisfied the fire codes, it also made it possible to expand the space simply by taking the wall down, Jerry explains.
On the second floor, above the offices and parts bins area, the Reads built an 80 by 100 foot area for overhead parts storage. It has a cement floor that is five inches thick and accessible by forklift and stairs. It could even be used for manufacturing, says Jerry.
What started off as a design scratched on a Subway Sandwich napkin, has resulted in a sophisticated and adaptable building that is ready to grow as needed.