Evolution Ag’s four locations have been servicing Ohio farmers for a combined 175 years. The agricultural-equipment dealership sells and services everything necessary to keep farms in business.
“We’re principally a Case IH farm-equipment dealership, selling combines, tractors, planters, tillage equipment, self-propelled sprayers as well as the parts and service,” says Douglas Loudenslager, principal, secretary and manager of Evolution Ag’s Delaware location. The company has three other dealerships, in Circleville, Upper Sandusky and Utica.
Evolution Ag maintains steady sales in an industry at the mercy of market pricing, weather and the federal government. “We see a fair level of uncertainty with our customers because Congress hasn’t been able to pass a farm bill,” Loudenslager says.
Evolution Ag sales are going strong, he says, because the company strives to help farmers grow in times of uncertainty. “We feel that we’re partners with farmers throughout Ohio by providing them the equipment, service and parts they need to produce the abundant, safe, low-cost food supply that we have come to enjoy in this country.”
Q: How does farmer success directly impact your business?
A: It’s a direct impact. As the financial success of farms goes up and down, it directly impacts machinery purchases. We’ve been fortunate over the past couple of years with relatively good crops and good prices. Plus, we’ve also benefited from some preferential tax treatment that has encouraged farm businesses, like other businesses, to invest in machinery and equipment.
Q: How have sales been the past year?
A: I would say we’re steady, consistent, at this point in the year, where we were last year. There has always been uncertainty in agriculture bred by weather, crop and livestock prices and government policies.
Q: Have customers been hesitant to make big purchases due to the uncertainty of the farm bill?
A: We haven’t seen that reflected yet. I think there remains a fair amount of optimism that a farm bill will get passed, or it will simply revert back to existing legislation. But that could change depending on what Congress does, or does not, do. Up to this point we have not seen that uncertainty reflected in machinery purchases.
Q: What are your top-selling items?
A: It’s not unusual for a farmer to have $2 million worth of equipment as part of a farm operation. Of that total, the harvesting and planting equipment represent some of the largest investments.
Another significant investment is in the area of tractors. Farmers are good stewards. Unfortunately, good stewardship comes at a price. Reducing emissions to meet higher EPA standards has caused higher purchase and operational costs of most equipment being produced today. At the end of the day, farmers want to protect the land and the environment. They know their livelihood is dependent upon the natural resources available to grow crops and livestock safely and efficiently.
Q: Are used-equipment sales higher since the equipment prices have increased due to companies trying to meet EPA standards?
A: One of the reasons used equipment is very attractive is it does not require the use of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), an additive that newer equipment is required to use to meet new emission standards. Diesel trucks on the road are using the same type of additive to reduce emissions.
Q: How does the weather impact your sales?
A: We’re discovering the seed varieties that are produced today, as compared to 20 years ago, are much more drought-resistant. Many farmers last year were very pleasantly surprised once they got into their fields and began harvesting their crop.
The crop was better than expected last fall, and it translated into strong purchasing in the last quarter. Farmers were also working to take advantage of the tax rules for investment before the end of the year.
Q: If the weather holds up this year, do you guys see a positive sales projection?
A: Considering the crops we have in this area, we are very positive. We anticipate good yields. The other half of the equation — prices — represents a different story. We’ve had a significant decline in corn and soybean prices, compared to last year. If those prices hold or decline further, it will certainly impact the farmers’ bottom line and may impact sales of some equipment in the last half of the year.
Q: How do you see your company adding to Ohio’s economy?
A: Technology is contributing more to the production of food throughout the country. We have added specialists to our service team assisting farmers with the application of GPS and precision-farming technology, allowing them to apply what the crop needs, at the right time, in the right amount.
Q: How important is agriculture to the Ohio economy?
A: When you consider all the people that are involved in the production, processing, marketing, distribution and transportation, as well as all the people involved in producing the inputs for the industry, agriculture employs over
10 percent of all Ohio workers.