The Farm Equipment in your hands today is 20 years in the making. Shortly after acquiring Farm Equipment (and what would become Ag Equipment Intelligence and Farm Innovations) in 2004, we learned our fate was tied to the shortline equipment manufacturers. The late Bill Fogarty maintained Farm Equipment’s unique role was to advocate for dealers and shortline manufacturers. We recognized the majors saw little value in supporting us financially (though they liked the ink … if positive, that is).

We got it. The majors felt they didn’t need us. The Big 4 were trying to slash their dealer ranks, not recruit, and were content with their “house organs” to communicate with their dealers, so they were unlikely advertisers. (Farm Equipment is a qualified-by-request controlled circulation magazine, which means our revenue comes almost entirely from businesses wanting to reach our audience.)

Meanwhile, we soon learned that dealers wanted to get outside of their own heads (and AORs) to be alerted to best practices and financial benchmarks. We started facilitating peer-to-peer problem-solving via our deep dealer database, and we learned you welcomed a trusted partner you could vent with.

At the same time, shortline manufacturers, facing purity pressures from the mainlines, desperately needed to find retail distribution and to maintain stocking orders with current dealers. I’ve been told by participants that their business improved as a result. That’s why we’re here.

Complementary Business. Regardless of what sign is out front, everyone can acknowledge what leading shortlines can do, including the chance for dealers to prove merit on a specialized product and earn a "color conversion" on the big machinery.

“You plowed ahead in a business that favors the big and leverages the economies of scale that were created to keep others sidelined…”

That’s why we continue to go deep with executive Q&As, the “Success in Shortline Machinery” series and shortline dealer profiles, including some whose contract was terminated yet still found success without a tractor or combine. In recent years, we launched the “How We Did It” podcast series and then the documentary film series by the same name, devoted to the independent manufacturers.

The decision to reimagine an annual shortline equipment directory (1,300 product listings) led to a dedicated issue on the business of shortline equipment.

Due Respect. Inside you’ll find several firsts, most notably the inaugural class of Farm Equipment’s Shortline Legends Hall of Fame. We’ve long wanted to execute this idea — as no such awards program existed specifically for the shortline equipment manufacturer.

Embarking on our 20th year of owning/operating Farm Equipment, and its 55th year overall, we saw no better time to introduce the “Shortline Legends.”

As an owner of a family business, I have great respect for you who’ve plowed forward in a business that favors the big and leverages the economies of scale that were created to keep others sidelined. Neither the life of an equipment dealer — nor the shortline equipment manufacturer battling for distribution — is for the faint of heart. But know our staff has both of your backs, and our respect, for your perseverance in serving  your customers, employees and communities to propel farming forward, day in and day out.  

We invite you to reflect on the changes in ag equipment over the last 55 years. To contribute to this special coverage in the October/November 2023 edition, email me at