McCormick USA is here to stay. Honest. In an effort to battle rumors that the red tractor maker is going to pull out of the U.S. market, company owner Simeone Morra of Argo SpA along with other top executives spent the summer visiting dealers to show they are serious about the U.S. market.
“Have we gone through some struggles?” asks Rodney Miller, vice president of sales and new products. “Yes, just like any tractor company. But what we have now is a solid dealer network. And we will be here tomorrow to back up what we sell today because of the strength Argo has worldwide.”
Argo SpA of San Martino in Rio, Italy, is a holding company owned by the Morra family, which has been operating in the agricultural mechanization sector for three generations. The company has global sales in excess of $1 billion and more than 3,200 employees. Argo also owns Italian equipment company Landini, which puts Argo among the top six tractor manufacturers in the world in terms of volume sold.
Argo came into possession of McCormick as a result of a divestiture agreement created when Fiat purchased Case IH Corporation in 2001 and merged it with New Holland to form CNH. Fiat was required to sell the McCormick name and Case's manufacturing plant in Doncaster, England, as part of the agreement. Landini bought both.
McCormick housed its U.S. headquarters with Vermeer Manufacturing in Pella, IA. But last year, Argo moved the headquarters from Pella to Landini's facilities in Norcross, GA, “to take advantage of common dealer and customer support functions at a new shared office, training facility and parts warehouse,” according to the company.
During this move, the logistics involved with the transfer of $8 million in parts inventories strained relations with dealers and raised questions about the company's long-term stability in the U.S. market. Now, one year later, Morra says McCormick has settled into its shared digs and is stronger than ever. The company expanded its staff and created a new support team for its 200-plus dealers.
Next year, the company plans to grow its dealer network. And to prevent future parts mishaps, it will continue to rely on a Web-based product locator to track parts and inventories.
Argo also introduced three new families of McCormick tractors to meet the needs of a diversified customer base. “We are coming with more new products in one year than we've had since we brought the brand to the U.S. six years ago,” Morra says. “So we are actually growing and expanding the business and being more aggressive. We have a future.”