A few weeks ago I took a quick trip south down I-71 to Central Ohio (for you non-Buckeyes, I-71 runs North-South between Ohio’s three major cities) to visit with Ag Info Tech (AIT) CEO and VP of Sales Tim Norris, who had promised to walk me through some basic steps in yield monitor calibration for an upcoming feature in PrecisionAg® Professional (that feature will run in August’s print issue).
Anyways, while hanging with Tim it dawned on me that, having been a Precision Planting dealer since 2013, who better to ask for some perspective on that perplexing situation back in May when Monsanto informed Deere and Precision Planting that it was pulling out of the deal, killing it before U.S. anti-trust regulators even had the chance.
“I don’t really have a clue as to who will pick it up,” Norris said after we wrapped our yield monitor calibration 101 session. “I’ve heard Case IH, AGCO, even that Greg (Sauder, founder of 360 Yield Center) might be buying it back. I just hope that whoever buys it sees the value in the dealer network, along with the products that they have. When you look at a lot of the equipment dealers, they’re great at what they do in selling and delivering equipment, but electronics hasn’t traditionally been their forte, especially in the past.”
As far as what the deal means for Precision Planting’s dealer network – Norris’ AIT is one of 19 premier dealers in and around the Mid-Ohio region – jury’s still out.
“I don’t know if it’s good or bad for us, it kind of depends on who ends up buying it,” Norris shares. “I just hope they realize that you have to have a dealer that understands the electronics and can get out there and service it, install it correctly, set it up correctly, calibrate it correctly, and diagnose it correctly, because if you don’t have that and you rely on a mechanic servicing this equipment you’re going to fail.”
But Mr. Norris, if you had to go out on a limb and guess who would be the best fit to pick up the Precision Planting line, who would that be?
“I really think that if they’d have licensed it to Ag Leader and maintained the dealer network it would have been a win-win for farmers, dealers, and Ag Leader, because they’d have another product to sell, and the farmers would have another choice in displays to run it through.
“I think it’s great though that John Deere basically has endorsed their product line by saying they want to buy it,” Norris adds. “And Ag Leader has basically endorsed their product line, by saying they’d be interested in utilizing some of that. Now, Ag Leader has a great display in the Integra, and they were going to integrate that with Precision Planting parts, which would have been a big deal.”
And that’s all we got from Tim before we went off-the-record, hence the “Quick Rewind” slug in the headline.
We’ll see where this Deere-Precision Planting thing goes in the coming months, but I’m optimistic that our upcoming InfoAg show in St. Louis at the end of the month will provide some clarity as to the immediate future of one of our industries’ biggest innovators.