It was 15 years ago this summer that Farm Equipment’s Dealership of the Year (DOY) edition made its debut. Revisiting the collection of articles on these Alumni Group Members over this period provides an interesting timestamping of growth in the size of leading dealer operations, and a continued re-marking of what progressive, forward-looking dealerships can dare to achieve. For one, the revenue figures that define a large multi-store dealership are significantly higher today than most could’ve imagined a generation ago. An awakening Rip Van Winkle would be amazed to see the sophistication, size and scope of the dealer world of 2020. 

As the DOY program starts its next 15-year chapter, the independent panel of judges selected the 2020 recipient ... AgriVision Equipment, a 17-store John Deere group based in Pacific Junction, Iowa. 

In addition to the coverage on p. 14, consider these observations about this fast-moving company, which now totals $463 million in revenue, with 415 full-time employees ...

All About ROI. Virtually every conversation with AgriVision’s peers cites the group’s early sophistication in establishing and communicating data-driven ROI to the farmer. Not only does AgriVision make it its business to understand the inputs and tools, but it also invests in research plots — and the extra manpower and equipment — to prove how new technology performs in local conditions. Local data, they say, gives farmers confidence in their decisions.

Toughness & Resiliency. Two of AgriVision’s stores were decimated by the spring 2019 floods (10 feet underwater). AgriVision mobilized its return with fast thinking, hustle and help from customers. Despite those challenges, it still ended 2019 in impressive financial standing, and with battle-tested experience.

Agility & Nimbleness. By remaining close to the action, problems and opportunities can be acted upon in real-time. This spring, the competitive landscape revealed the need to get a jump on getting used S-Series combines off the lots, and the dealership reacted fast to get there early. With the unit sales goal met, employees may call CEO Jeremy Ostrander up for another “haircut.” (A companywide goal was celebrated on May 1 with a public shaving of Ostrander’s head.)

Betting on Itself. AgriVision entered the John Deere forage harvester market following the 2017 acquisitions. Aggressiveness brought a remarkable market share success story (to 64.5%), which put the company among the top forage harvester sales performers in 2019.

Tech Recruitment. As the industry laments worries over tech shortages, AgriVision grew its technicians by a net 31 positions in 2019, the second-largest growth of any Deere dealer. The ownership group’s commitment to new facilities will surely assist in retention and further recruitment.

Demanding the Margin. AgriVision makes no apology for the percent of net sales that it must obtain corporately — in good and bad times. It’s understood as a necessity to reinvest in the company, and most importantly, on the people development side.

Direction & Next Generation. The firm’s marching orders (via purpose, vision and ambition documents) are directional, organized and clear, and involved front-line employees. The company also has a 3-tiered plan for leadership at multiple levels to ensure the preparedness for the future. Plus, 6 members of the firm’s leadership team are under the age of 50. 

Finally, AgriVision expressly states its business is no longer about equipment, but “ag production systems,” a significant shift that its OEM is making news on as well. As this new dynamic plays out in the years ahead, AgriVision will likely be on that leading edge, too. They believe they’ll need to be to achieve the $1 billion sales level goal they’ve identified for themselves over the next 3-5 years.