Last week I had the opportunity to cover the grand opening of AGCO’s newly expanded manufacturing plant and visitors’ center in Jackson, Minn. I’ve been to many "grand openings" during my publishing career, but this one had a different feel to it.

Maybe it was the high school marching band that played its slightly off key versions of “Oh Canada” and the "Star Spangled Banner." Maybe it was the more than 500 people on hand to celebrate the event. Many of them were locals. Maybe it was the presence of Al McQuinn, founder of Ag Chem Corp., who constructed the original plant at the location to build crop sprayers, and Bob Ratliff, one of the original founders of AGCO in 1990. Maybe it was a lot of things that set this particular event apart from others I’ve attended during the past 35 years.

My first observation is that AGCO has grown up. It's still the third largest farm equipment maker in the world, but today it seems to be saying that it has no intention of always being in third place. The AGCO dealers I've spoken with during the past year or two believe they can compete with any of the other major ag machinery brands out there. They didn't always believe this.

If you don't want to take my word for it, here's what one AGCO dealer wrote to us after visiting the new facilities last week.The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility is truly impressive with automatic guided vehicles, and the quality system they've adapted to the new operations is something you need to see for yourself.

AGCO hit a grand slam! I've never been more proud to be an AGCO dealer than after touring the new high horsepower tractor plant and Intivity Center. It doesn't matter what brand you run, you need to learn about what's under the paint and the history and innovations that have changed American agriculture, and AGCO has captured that at Jackson, Minn. In my book, if you deal with agriculture, a visit to Jackson now must be included on your bucket list! I'll be visiting again soon! There was too much for one trip to absorb all the history of innovation. American agriculture does have a new home!”

As much as anything, it was the fact that AGCO made a strategic decision to build its newest and biggest tractors in America and create nearly 200 new manufacturing jobs. The workforce at the plant grew from 850 to 1,100 workers, and they’re looking for more.

If you’re interested in history, the new Intivity visitors’ center is worth seeing as well.

Congratulations AGCO! Put me on the list to attend your next grand opening.