The familiar small orange tractors of Kubota have carved a healthy niche in the compact tractor world over the past 40-plus years. Today, however, a floor display of Kubota equipment shows considerable diversity. Just what is this company planning?
We grabbed a chat during the very busy National Farm Machinery Show with Todd Stucke, the recently named vice president of sales, marketing and product support at Kubota, to get a better handle on this now-diversifying company. Kubota was hit pretty hard by the Great Recession of 2008.
What’s happening now?
We saw sales declines of 20% or more during the period. But for January, sales for Kubota rose 52%. The recession is over.
At the National Farm Machinery Show you’re launching the M Series higher-horsepower tractor line. Aren’t you launching this into a soft market?
This market is soft. Our timing for entering the row-crop market may be a little challenging. However, this tractor size is perfect for the hay and cattle segments, both of which are stronger right now. The M7 Series will be a strong chore tractor, too. Yet it offers key features for the row-crop market, including a bar axle, a continuously variable transmission and closed center hydraulics.
Kubota has been diversifying. You own 100% of Kverneland, and we’re starting to see the benefits of that, but what about Vicon?
Kubota owns 100% of Kverneland, and we are marketing hay tools made by that division. Vicon is a strong brand name in North America, and we’re going to continue to support that through the distributors we’re already working with. They have their dealer network, and we have ours. We’re also investing in dealer development as we add new product lines for Kubota.
Yet we’re seeing Kubota-branded hay tools, too.
We’re introducing a round baler line this year, and we introduced hay rakes and other tools last year. We’re bringing these to the market on a time frame that makes sense. We’re also launching skid-steer loaders into the market, as we see an opportunity for those machines, as well.
You came to Kubota from Agco, and you’ve been with the new company for two years before this most recent promotion. What drives you?
What excites me about being with Kubota is the product quality and excellence throughout the engineering, product design and manufacturing process. The attention to detail and product quality for these machines is absolutely incredible. We have to sell this product in the field and show this to the customer, and that’s the exciting side of it.
What do you see for the future, regarding new products and Kverneland’s role?
Kubota is looking to invest in more markets. We’ve introduced the new M7 and the skid-steer loader. Within turf, our No. 1 goal for North America is to develop our commercial market. As for Kverneland, they continue to develop and engineer products in Europe, and we will work to adapt those technologies for North America. We see potential in some core areas, including seeding, tillage and spraying.
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