July 2015

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>> 40-BELOW JOANNE COSTIN T hree years ago when Jon Berry joined Berry Tractor & Equip- ment as equipment manager, he was an outsider with the Berry name, having worked since college in the commercial real estate business. "It was a good role to come into from an outside industry to learn the business from the ground up," said Berry. "You really have your ear to the ground and you get in tune to what is going on at the whole dealership level." Challenging Times It was a challenging time for the deal- ership, which was historically reliant on governmental sales. Motor graders had been the dealer's bread and butter product line, as government agencies purchased them to maintain the large number of unpaved roads in Kansas. Government sales accounted for about 40 percent of the dealer's total heavy equipment market. Eighty percent of the machines they purchased were motor graders. When the dealership's primary manufacturer, Komatsu, discontinued its Galion motor grader, it became more diffi- cult for the dealer to win government bids. "e situation worsened with the recession in 2009 and tightened supplies that accompanied Tier 4 machinery introductions. When Berry came on board in 2011, management was already aware that that the competitive market had changed and knew they needed to change on some level. "We were some- what unclear as to what that entailed. It was hard to know what to do about it," said Berry. Berry says the process of looking at oneself can be hard. "It's easier to say the manufacturer changed and the market changed and some days those things will come back and we will be here when they do. It's harder to say things have changed and they may never come back. From this day forward what do I need to do differ- ently?" explained Berry. When the current general manager retired earlier than expected, Berry found himself at the helm of the 57-year-old heavy equipment dealer- ship. Berry Tractor & Equipment is one of seven divisions of the Berry Companies. "ere is a lot of autonomy in the role, with each general manager making decisions for his division, and the parent company taking on the role of investor. To guide the dealer in moving forward, Berry Tractor & Equipment hired marketing firm Winsby Inc ., to create a competitive landscape of the Kansas and Springfield, Mo. market, using data gathered from customer surveys. Later they would use the data to drill down into specific locations to identify the reasons why one store performs better than another, and try to implement things that were work- ing at different locations. "e goal was to become a more customer-centric organization – focused on serving a new customer base: contractors. In his first month, Berry had round- table discussions at each of the dealer's four locations-Witchita, Topeka, and Garden City, Kan. as well Springfield, Mo. Employees took part in a SWOT analysis — a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a business. "We went through that analysis and used all the information and formu- lated some action points," said Berry. "You look for the common threads and you go for that." Among the changes initiated were new product lines geared toward contractors – such as crushing and screening equipment from Screen Machine Industries. "But 200 motor graders cannot be replaced by one or two heavy crushing pieces," he added. More needed to be done. Pursing the contractor market successfully required a huge cultural change. According to Berry, govern- ment customers do not have the same focus on deadlines as contractors. Patient for Change Jon Berry talks about leading sustainable change at Berry Tractor & Equipment 44 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | July 2015 Pursing the contractor market successfully required a huge cultural change. CED CHECKS IN WITH AN UP-AND-COMING DEALER LEADER UNDER AGE 40

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