Rodney Miller, the chief executive officer of McCormick International USA, paid a visit Tuesday afternoon to one of its biggest dealerships, Kesteloot Enterprises of rural Marshall.
Miller was there, along with Alan Hargis, the vice president of sales, to meet with Kesteloot employees and customers during Kesteloot's customer appreciation day.
"Kesteloot's is one of our larger dealers," said Hargis. "It only sells McCormick tractors. We want to support them however we can."
Photo by Karin Elton
From left, Clayton Thornber, territory manager for McCormick; Tom Kesteloot, owner of Kesteloot Enterprises, Rodney Miller, CEO of McCormick; Daren Kesteloot, Kesteloot employee; Alan Hargis, McCormick vice president of sales; and Rick Martens, sales representative for Kesteloot.
Tom Kesteloot, the owner of Kesteloot Enterprises along with his wife, Jodi, said it was "very rewarding" to have the CEO of McCormick visit.
McCormick is a tractor wholesaler.
"We're honored to be here for appreciation day," said Miller.
Miller and Hargis hope to get a sense of how the customers feel about their products - their likes and dislikes, Miller said.
"We want to hear about what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong," he said.
Both Kesteloot and Miller said business was good, but not as great as last year - "a record year," said Miller. "We're down 14 percent but less than our competitors who are about 25 percent down."
"This industry is healthier than the larger economy," said Kesteloot. "Ninety out of 100 people are spending as they always did. Once confidence comes back, the economy will come back."
Along with McCormick tractors, Kesteloot's carries Grasshopper lawnmowers, Suzuki ATVs and Komatsu construction equipment. Kesteloot's also repairs and services the products.
Clayton Thornber, a territory manager for McCormick said current crop conditions are good and when crop conditions are good, the farmer will buy more equipment.
"Farming today is a capital intensive business," he said. "Farmers are not afraid to buy equipment if it will make them money."
Thornber said "crop conditions are generally good with isolated areas that experienced early wet weather. There was a dry spell for part of the territory, in Wisconsin."
Thornber's territory is Minnesota, Wisconsin and part of Iowa.
Thornber said the beans are showing strength, corn is showing a little strength and beef and milk might go higher.
Miller said the crops that he has seen in southwestern Minnesota look good.
"It looks to be a strong, strong fall," he said.
"The beans are so green they look blue," Hargis said.
Miller said he admired the scenery of southwestern Minnesota.
"It's beautiful country," he said.
It reminded him of southern Illinois where he is originally from.
"We're just a bunch of farm boys," he said of McCormick personnel. "We're learning every day. The company is profitable, but we still have a lot of things to fix. We want to make good decisions and grow the company."
McCormick's corporate headquarters are in Duluth, Ga.
"They just opened a new facility," said Kesteloot, who has visited there.
"We have training, offices, warehouses and light assembly," said Miller.