Executive Editor Kim Schmidt and I hit the road this week for a couple of dealer visits in Indiana. One of them was our first visit to AgRevolution’s newest store in Vincennes, Ind., which opened in the summer of 2022. For those unfamiliar, AgRevolution is the moniker of the 7 company stores owned and operated by AGCO since the fall of 2020.

I admit that in nearly 20 years of covering the business and as a business owner myself, there’s a heaping helping of skepticism on the subject of the viability of the company store. I’ve heard the stories of the failures of the past, including how factory people didn’t get what “real” farm customer service meant (and what would drive farmers to the competition) and what happened when no real entrepreneur and/or fully deputized decision maker was in the building. Someone had to bring the ship in – come hell or high water – and company stores were ripe for complacency and lack of expense controls, I’ve been told.

Those sharing that “conventional wisdom” would often say so in a way that almost “invited” the company store competition; that an independently owned dealer would outperform the OEM store every time and resulted in the major-line exiting with its tail between its legs, just like it always has.

So I was eager to see AGCO’s company stores for myself. I’ve got to say that when we arrived at the Elkhorn Road store in Vincennes that late afternoon we were a little underwhelmed. The building had modern curb appeal (but not a great location) and was smaller than anticipated, though it had a handful of new machines, including Fendt tractors, a Gleaner combine and a few shortline products, most notably a couple of Brandt tillage tools.

But even though the place very much resembled the startup that it is, the two staffers we met with (several others were in the field) may have chipped away at my company store biases.