Awards and recognition are the way society works. It's often the only way we can know someone is worth working with, especially if it's an unfamiliar company; or one you haven't worked with in come time. In the equipment business, the Equipment Dealers Association surveys members and has them help determine the companies that are highest rated on a number of issues.
And before I get to this year's honorees, you may ask: Why does it matter to my farm that a dealer group picks some companies as tops to do business with?
I sometimes ask that, then I think about your relationship with the dealer. Over the past two decades this industry has changed from farmers who bled a specific paint color to those that are looking for the best price or value for money. That has shifted brand loyalty in some ways to dealer loyalty.
However, your local dealer, while savvy and a sharp supporter of your farm, can only keep your gear running if the parts come in on time, or the service techs are kept in top training. So that dealer who supports you better be supported by the brands you buy. The EDA Dealer's Choice Award calls out those companies that stand out for 12 key categories covering operations and support.
We know that companies not listed in the results I'll share below, also provide solid support for their dealers; but in this recognition - which was voted by dealers - not every brand gets listed. Should you stop working with companies that aren't on the list? Of course not, because the brands that support your farm must be doing a good job or you wouldn't work with them.
But if you're looking at new brands for your farm this list can help point you to companies that might be worth checking out. And I say "might" because not every brand has strong dealers in every market, though they work hard to support their products to keep you as a customer. EDA has been conducting this award program since 2013, so this is the fourth list of honorees.
EDA lists not only the 2016 Dealer's Choice Award winners, but also it's Gold Level companies that have earned recognition for "exceptional overall ratings."
First up - the 2016 Dealer's Choice Award winners are:
Full-line manufacturer: John Deere
Tractor manufacturer: LS Tractor
Shortline manufacturer: Vermeer
Outdoor Power Equipment manufacturer: Grasshopper
EDA notes that Vermeer has earned the top rating in the Shortline category for all four years. John Deere, LS Tractor and grasshopper topped their categories for the second year in a row.
As for those Gold Level companies? The number is up for 2016 to 27 from 16 in 2015; which shows companies are upping their support game with dealers. The association also reports that ratings were more "clustered" compared to last year which also shows companies are investing in field support to enhance their offering.
As for the Gold Level companies? Here's the list:
Tractor manufacturers: Branson Tractor, Kioti Tractor and Kubota
Shortline manufacturers: Bourgault Industries, Claas, Degelman, Great Plains (now owned by Kubota), H&S Manufacturing, Kuhn NA, Land Pride, Landoll, MacDon Industries, Meyer Manufacturing, Unverferth Manufacturing and Woods
Outdoor Power Equipment manufacturers: Ariens, Echo, Exmark, Ferris, Gravely, Hustler, Scag, Shindaiwa, Stihl, Toro, Walker and Wright Manufacturing.
Dixie Chopper was also recognized for the second year in a row as Most Improved for achieving the greatest percentage increase in overall ratings from 2015 from all manufacturers.
You can check out the honorees here, and you'll find comments from dealers for the Dealer's Choice winners.