This week (starting on the 8th)
AGCO is holding its North American dealer convention in Kansas City,
Missouri. I was one of the members of the farm media invited to
attend the opening ceremony and product introduction portion. That
gala evening made the event seem more like a night at the Oscars than
a farm machinery show.
The official introduction of the
roughly 15 new machines was certainly a spectacle. About 1,700
dealers, along with some of their family members and employees, sat
in the stands as the company staged a slick presentation, parading
all those new products out as music boomed and lights flashed.
Dealers cheered frequently as some particular machine that would
appeal to their customers suddenly appeared.
There were new additions to almost
every line of products the company builds. To name just a few, there
was a new large square baler, new windrower, 7600 Series tractor line
and 9500 Series combines from Massey Ferguson. The Sunflower brand
added new tillage and seeding tools, including the new AGCO-Amity
joint venture air seeder and an enormous, rubber-tracked, 36-row
planter. And there were new models in the “Gator” lines.
With so many new products being
introduced at the same time, the company billed it as “the largest
equipment introduction in the history of the industry”. Despite
launching so many new products this year, management is promising
several more to come, sooner rather than later. According to Bob
Crain, AGCO’s senior vice president, general manager, North America,
the company made a commitment about six years ago to focus on
advancing the technology used in its brands. The first machines to
come out of that in-house R&D program debuted last year in St.
The kick off for this year’s week-long
dealer event was certainly a spectacular bash. The company created
the presentations around a classic movies theme, and that was
apparent right from the start. Dealers made their way into the
proceedings along a seemingly endless red carpet stretching from the
tour bus unloading point to the main theatre.
After the initial product introductions
were over, dealers rode around on wagons, pulled by an MF tractor, to
take a “back lot studio tour”. At each stop, visitors saw one or
two of the new machines on a stage along with actors who parodied
various classic movies and used famous phrases from scripts to
highlight the machine’s advantages—it actually made for a few
At one “tour stop”, windrowers were
featured on a western movie set. The AGCO marshall had to stop the
evil J.D. and his gang from taking over the town. (The gang was
wearing green shirts and yellow bandannas; you make the connection.)
The AGCO marshall stands up to J.D.
and his gang in one of the movie set vignettes staged to familiarize
dealers with the new line of AGCO products for 2012
In another, players in old team
uniforms walked out of a cornfield onto a baseball diamond. A new
9500 Series MF combine was parked in the outfield. An actor with a
James Earl Jones-like voice repeated the phrase “If Massey Ferguson
builds it, farmers will buy it.”
But if that’s really true, why all the
hype? Why not just park the machines outside an AGCO factory
somewhere, let dealers have a look at them, give them a factory tour,
a few beers and send them home? The reason is simple. The elaborate
launch was designed to get dealers enthusiastic about the new
equipment and motivate them to get out and sell. It’s basic
psychology. No matter how good any technology is, dealers still need
to be excited about the new equipment in order to get farmers excited
If Massey Ferguson builds it, farmers
will buy it, providing dealers do their part. The Kansas City
event was meant to help ensure that happens.
Be sure to look for a review of the new
equipment in a future print issue of Grainews.
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