Building relationships key

ROCK SPRINGS – Agriculture equipment dealers don’t expect to sell huge pieces of equipment this year at Ag Progress Days.

However, with 50,000 visitors expected to attend the three-day event sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences at the Russell E. Larson Agriculture Research Center at Rock Springs, chances are they might line up some sales.

“We hope to get a lot of leads from exposure. A lot of times you don’t sell at the show, but it may lead to sales afterwards,” said Phil Roush, service manager for B&R Farm Equipment, Beavertown and Milroy, which attended Ag Progress Days for only the second year. “We are here to get exposure and get our name out and grow

the business.”

Sometimes final buying decisions are made at the show.

“The farmer can see the new models and see the new features he doesn’t have so he can trade up. We give them the latest technical information and refer them to a dealer in their area.

“A lot of times a customer comes here and makes his final buying decision,” said Doug Williams, field product support, shows and training manager for Kuhn North America, Brodhead, Wisc.

Messick’s Farm Equipment of Elizabethtown has attended Ag Progress Days for 20 plus years, General Manager Jay Gainer said.

“It is a good place to catch up with farmers in a non-threatening environment. They can ask questions and feel no pressure. It is a great place to meet and greet new and old customers,” Gainer said.

Gainer said he believes it is necessary to attend the show.

“It costs me $20,000 a year to come here, but I think it is necessary. Can I say I sold enough to cover that? I can’t say that. It helps generate new business,” Gainer said. “They may come back in January and say they saw us at Ag Progress Days.”

Jared Weaver, sales manager for Deer & Country Farm and Lawn Inc., Lancaster, Adamstown and Allentown, said it is difficult to measure the impact of attending the show.

“Customers want to see your latest equipment. You can’t measure the impact a show has. You have to come to keep your name out there. You don’t make a profit; it costs a lot to get equipment here. Hopefully you get a return on it in the long run. Hopefully you get leads and follow up; it is all about getting sales leads,” Weaver said.

Weaver said his company is having a good year.

“The agriculture economy has remained strong. We sell to a wide variety of customers. With John Deere, we can sell [anything from] a $1,500 lawn mower to a $400,000 self-propelled piece of equipment to farmers and others in between,” Weaver said.

Williams said his company’s sales have exceeded their record year in 2008.

Ag Progress Days continues from 9 8 p.m. today with a visit from Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-5th District, Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture George Greig, Penn State President Rodney Erickson and College of Agricultural Sciences Interim Dean Barbara Christ. The show will conclude from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.