Earlier this month, I had the privilege of traveling to Hanover, Germany, for Agritechnica. In addition to seeing a number of new products and technologies and getting my exercise (64,412 steps over 3 days) I had the opportunity to sit down with Stefan Sprock, executive partner of German John Deere dealership group B+S Landechnik. The group has 4 stores in Northeast Germany as well as two other locations that it calls partner companies — LMF in Friesack, Germany, and AHS in Lindstedt, Germany. Sprock says their organization is on the larger side compared to other German dealerships.
Over the course of our conversation one thing became clear, while there are certainly differences between German dealers and North American dealers, their main challenges are very similar. Much like what we hear in the U.S. and Canada, finding good, qualified employees is a challenge for dealers in Germany, too. While he didn’t use these words exactly, Sprock suggests that Germany also has a “Millennial problem.” In his words, “Young people don’t want to work so hard. They don’t want to get dirty.”
Despite the challenge, Sprock and B+S are working to prepare students for a future working in a dealership. The company offers 17 apprenticeships for service technicians, warehouse logistics specialists, office management and export and import clerks. They are also work with local schools to set up a network to recruit technicians, salespeople and farm site specialists (similar to a road tech). With the ever-growing challenge to find a young, motivated workforce, B+S is working to make sure when they find young people with potential they are training them and creating experts who can continue on at the dealership once the apprenticeship ends. Over the last 25 years, B+S has trained about 100 apprentices, many who have stayed on to work for the dealership full-time.
We’ll have more coverage on the new products and technologies we saw at Agritechnica in the January issue of Farm Equipment.