|By CINDY LADAGE
VIRDEN, Ill. — April 7-8 were big days for Sloan Implement in Virden. Staff worked during the weekend at the Lawn and Garden Show at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, sharing what is new and different in the line of equipment John Deere has to offer.
“John Deere has changed their lineup and adopted new models,” said Sloan’s salesman Don Redeker. “Lawn and garden has got to be a big part of our business.”
Roger Spires, Virden store manager added, “10 percent of our business is from the lawn and garden.”
Redeker said in the past few years the models have had names like the L and G series mowers. These letters have been replaced with a number series the 100, 300, 500 and 700 series along with a new way of thinking. John Deere quality is moving into mainstream America’s hands.
“Today, Deere is focusing the bulk of their models on mass merchandizing,” he said.
Redeker said Deere is offering a special agreement with Lowe’s and Home Depot allowing the megastores to sell lower-end John Deere mowers like the JD 100 series. Deere advertised that these mowers offer a lot of work with less effort.
Easy use at an affordable cost is just what homeowners are looking for in a machine, Redeker said. He explained how the relationship with Lowe’s and Home Depot works.
“We have a unique situation,” Redeker said. “Lowe’s and Home Depot can sell the mowers, and we are the warranty agent. We service them.”
Mark Smith, Sloan Implement’s lawn and garden specialist added, “In the past, Deere has always focused on farmers and large property owners who needed high-end mowers. Deere is now delving into providing affordable mowers for homeowners. We are tying to supply inexpensive high-quality mowers to fit that market.”
Farmers and large property owners have not been forgotten. For these groups along with the commercial cutter, a professional offering lawn care services, a big mower that can handle a big job is what is needed.
“For this type of use, we have our Z-Track, zero-turning-radius mowers,” Smith said. “It offers maneuverability and speed. It is a simple, rugged mower.
“The zero-turning mower is our highest selling item. It sells at a cost of $6,000 to $12,000.”
The zero-turning mower can speed up mowing a large property.
“The Z-track will mow at 10 miles per hour,” Smith said laughing. “If you can stay in your seat.”
Besides the mowers themselves, Redeker said Sloan’s also offers a variety of lawn-finishing items.
“We also sell lawn finishing items from the basic push mower to a commercial ride-on mower,” he said. “We have weed-eaters and chain saws.”
Another interesting item he mentioned was a pole saw.
“This is a chain saw on the end of a weed eater stick,” he explained. “We also have hedge trimmers and leaf blowers. We offer the full range.”
Although they are gearing up for the lawn-and-garden season with the show in Springfield and an upcoming open house in Virden, Redeker said the company has been working with commercial users since early in the year.
“We also work with government, schools and park districts,” he said. “We offer lawn and garden sales year-round.”
One customer that Redeker said John Deere dealers are seeing more of is the large property owner or the small farmer owner who has a bit of acreage and has use for the small utility tractors.
“They might have a horse or two or some livestock,” he said. “This group is a huge market. It follows a bit of the trend of those that want to live in a rural area and have a small farm or a pasture type of situation.”
Along with the small utility tractor, four-wheelers are popular with farmers and large property owners.
“They are used for spraying, checking on crops and tending livestock,” Redeker said.
John Deere Gators are also popular with Sloan Implement’s customers.
“They are used like a mini pickup,” he said. “They began like an ATV, and then became a two-seater. Now we offer the HPX four-wheel drive and a Turf Gator, as well.”
Even the youngest customers get included in Deere’s marketing effort.
“We even have a battery-powered Gator for the little tykes,” Redeker said.
Sloan Implement has been a fixture in the area since 1933. Founded by Rolla C. Sloan, the original Sloan dealership was located in Assumption, Ill., where the family still has a store.
Rolla’s brother, Larry, later joined in the business. Larry’s son, Tom, entered the business in 1971 and was eventually joined by his brothers, Craig and Jim, who later left to work at another family venture Grain Systems, Inc.
Today, Tom serves as Sloan’s general manager. For more information, call 1-800-745-8960.
This farm news was published in the April 12, 2006 issue of Farm World.