If you had the choice of working in the computer industry or the ag equipment business, which would you choose?
This may not be the best year to be asking a question like this, but regardless of the time or business environment, honestly, which would you choose? Maybe even more importantly, what’s the reason for your choice?
We got one top CFO’s answer recently when we visited a California dealer for our every-other-year Dealership Mind’s series, which will be featured in the February issue of Farm Equipment.
With this project, we assign several editors to spend a couple of days with the key people at a high performing dealership to dig in and find out what makes them tick; how they’re succeeding. This will be the fourth dealership featured in the series since it was initiated in 2010. (Birkey’s Farm Stores, Illinois, 2010; Precision Equipment (now Sinclair Tractor), Iowa, 2012; Champlain Valley Equipment, Vermont, 2014)
This time around we visited Kern Machinery, a John Deere dealer based in Bakersfield, Calif. Until fairly recently, it had 4 stores in California. The owners added 3 more, 2 in Oregon and 1 in Idaho, last August, which they call Camp Equipment.
Now, back to the original question, would it be farm machinery or computers as a career for you?
For Kern Machinery’s CFO, Marty Buck, his choice is ag equipment, rather than computers where he started his working life. And the fundamental reason he wanted to work in ag was physics.
Buck explains: “While I was at Unisys, the computer business changed rapidly and we went from 127,000 employees to 25,000. The changes in technology brought down the price of the product and eliminated the gross margin from hardware.
“Conversely, if you look at agriculture and the tractor business, physics works for you. You cannot take the steel out of a tractor; it can’t be done. You need that big machine to pull tillage equipment across the field. Horsepower can’t be downsized. So, I literally was looking at the long-term economic prospects of technology vs. agriculture and I chose agriculture because of the physics.”
He added, “I chose Kern Machinery because of the Camps” (owners Clayton, Don and Edwin Camp).
Buck may be one of the more quotable people we’ve interviewed in a long time. In a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to read more of what he has to say in the February issue as well as on our website at www.Farm-Equipment.com.