When Vanderloop Equipment, a 3-store dealership based out of Brillion, Wis., was looking to expand and open it’s latest store in Beaver Dam, Wis., co-owner Robb Vanderloop says their initial intention wasn’t for it to be a Claas branded store. However, when the dealership approached Claas about getting contracts for the new location, the approval came with a caveat. “They agreed as long as we made it a Claas-focused store,” Vanderloop says. The dealership agreed, and from the moment you approach the dealership from down the road to when you walk in the door, there’s no doubt that this is a Claas store. From the architecture to the Claas branded chairs in the conference room, the store is very well branded.
“I think Claas wants to be more of a full-line supplier. And that’s kind of what we’re looking at with this store — a full-line Claas dealership. We have hay tools, we have forage, and we have tractors. We will be able to supply basically all the needs of the industry,” Vanderloop says.
Eric Raby, Claas president and general manager of sales, praised Vanderloop for its investment and commitment, entrance into a new geography, and its vision and focus. Like others in its segment, Claas had to put in some of its own stores out of necessity to support customers after an exit. That’s the last resort he says; Claas wants and needs dealers like Vanderloop, who can see the value in making the commitment and focus to the future. In fact, the next closest Claas-branded store to Vanderloop is in Nebraska — and that’s a company owned dealership.
“Claas is not shortline and we’re not a full-line,” he says. “But we’re a longline company and Vanderloop sees the value and sustainable business that can come from that kind of focus.”
We’re used to hearing about the majors making purity demands, but it’s not a song we hear about as often from the specialty line manufacturers. But, as the need for good, qualified dealers increases, perhaps we’ll start to hear more stories like this one from Vanderloop. The dealership has a good relationship with Claas and wants to keep it that way. Vanderloop’s Beaver Dam store will carry a few non-competitive shortlines, such as sprayers, but the store doesn’t carry any of the dealership’s AGCO lines and currently has no plans to do so. But, Vanderloop adds, “Never is a long time to say we’ll never do it.”
Manufacturers need dealers who are dedicated to the brand, will carry parts and go through necessary service training. This was a line I heard on more than one occasion while talking with manufacturers last week at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville. And, as one manufacturer has told us in the past, a bad dealer can be worse than no dealer at all.