Mike Lessiter

Mike Lessiter

A second-generation ag journalist, Mike Lessiter has been Editor/Publisher of Farm Equipment since 2004. He has covered business-to-business operations, manufacturing and marketing topics since 1992. He has also served in several capacities with the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Assn., Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers and is a frequent industry speaker. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he was named president of Lessiter Publications Inc. in 2007.

Contact: mlessiter@lessitermedia.com

ARTICLES

Conversations in Ag

Ag Equipment One of the Bright Spots During Janesville’s Post-GM Depression

Both Mid-State Equipment (John Deere) and Johnson Tractor (Case IH) say their most strategic decision yet was establishing stores in the Janesville, Wisconsin market. Johnson arrived there in 1986 and Mid-State Equipment in 2000. Here’s a different — and surprising to some — look at a market that has been well documented since General Motors pulled up stakes from the city.
Both Mid-State Equipment (John Deere) and Johnson Tractor (Case IH) say their most strategic decision yet was establishing stores in the Janesville, Wisconsin market. Johnson arrived there in 1986 and Mid-State Equipment in 2000. Here’s a different — and surprising to some — look at a market that has been well documented since General Motors pulled up stakes from the city.
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Conversations in Ag

Vantage Points of Major Line, Consultant

In charge of New Holland’s dealer network, Bret Lieberman of New Holland North America and consultant Bob Clements of Bob Clements Intl. exchanged perspectives on real challenges facing equipment dealers.
In charge of New Holland’s dealer network, Bret Lieberman of New Holland North America and consultant Bob Clements of Bob Clements Intl. exchanged perspectives on real challenges facing equipment dealers.
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Conversations in Ag

Marketing the Many Lines

Vernon Schmidt (Executive Vice President, Farm Equipment Manufacturers Assn.) and Heather Hetterick (Director of Marketing, Redline Equipment) met for the first time during the United Equipment Dealers Assn. in Louisville, Ky., in February. Both have experience working with associations and manufacturers (Hetterick did a stint with the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers before moving to Ohio with husband, Zach, at Redline) and explored the challenges that come with promoting shortlines in a mainline dealership.
Vernon Schmidt (Executive Vice President, Farm Equipment Manufacturers Assn.) and Heather Hetterick (Director of Marketing, Redline Equipment) met for the first time during the United Equipment Dealers Assn. in Louisville, Ky., in February. Both have experience working with associations and manufacturers (Hetterick did a stint with the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers before moving to Ohio with husband, Zach, at Redline) and explored the challenges that come with promoting shortlines in a mainline dealership.
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Conversations in Ag

Analyst to Farmer: The Future of Ag

Steve Berger, a fourth-generation grain and hog producer in southeast Iowa, sat down with Ken Zuckerberg, then a senior research analyst in New York with Rabobank. The conversation provided Zuckerberg, who sees the industry from the perspective of a financial analyst, a chance to go eyeball-to-eyeball with a person in the trenches farming every day in Berger, a 2016 No-Till Innovator of the Year. The talk happened in the lobby at the 2018 National No-Tillage Conference in Louisville.
Steve Berger, a fourth-generation grain and hog producer in southeast Iowa, sat down with Ken Zuckerberg, then a senior research analyst in New York with Rabobank. The conversation provided Zuckerberg, who sees the industry from the perspective of a financial analyst, a chance to go eyeball-to-eyeball with a person in the trenches farming every day in Berger, a 2016 No-Till Innovator of the Year. The talk happened in the lobby at the 2018 National No-Tillage Conference in Louisville.
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Conversations in Ag

Brand Loyalties: What’s Kept Us from a Big Ticket Sale

Kentucky grain producer Joe Sisk and Jeff Morgan, H&R Agri-Power (Case IH dealer) share views into each other’s world and why they have not yet consummated a high-ticket deal for Sisk’s 5,000-acre operation, which remains 100% green on combines and tractors. As soon as they sat down, Sisk (45) reminded Morgan (53) that he’d been his tractor engine instructor in 4H 33 years earlier. Morgan remembered the class and the curriculum (“intake, compression, power and exhaust”) but hadn’t realized Sisk had been in the class.
Kentucky grain producer Joe Sisk and Jeff Morgan, H&R Agri-Power (Case IH dealer) share views into each other’s world and why they have not yet consummated a high-ticket deal for Sisk’s 5,000-acre operation, which remains 100% green on combines and tractors. As soon as they sat down, Sisk (45) reminded Morgan (53) that he’d been his tractor engine instructor in 4H 33 years earlier. Morgan remembered the class and the curriculum (“intake, compression, power and exhaust”) but hadn’t realized Sisk had been in the class.
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Conversations in Ag

Color-to-Color Competition in Same Town

In mid-April, Chris Frodel, Mid-State Equipment (John Deere) drove over from her store to meet in the conference room at Johnson Tractor (Case IH), Leo Johnson’s store. The length of Frodel’s drive on Highway 14 was a full 4 minutes. That’s how close these two dealerships are in the rich agricultural region of Janesville, Wis. Both are second-generation dealers with siblings as partners (Chris runs the business with her brother Bryan and father Curt Hanson, while Leo does the same with brother Eric) and steadily collected additional stores from small-operation origins. Frodel (44) and Johnson (62) also found a lot of similarities and values in their businesses as they dug in for a candid discussion and what the future may look like.
In mid-April, Chris Frodel, Mid-State Equipment (John Deere) drove over from her store to meet in the conference room at Johnson Tractor (Case IH), Leo Johnson’s store. The length of Frodel’s drive on Highway 14 was a full 4 minutes. That’s how close these two dealerships are in the rich agricultural region of Janesville, Wis.
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To The Point: A New-Era Hybrid Position?

As our small company grew and org charts were redefined, sales management was off-loaded from my plate last year to create more capacity for strategy and vision. And probably not unlike transitions at your dealerships, I work hard every day not to stick my nose back in. Michael Ellis, director of sales, is managing me through the weaning stage.
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