Ag-Power making the transition into Saline County

Monday, December 30, 2013
Ag-Power (formally Deems Farm Equipment) on North Highway 65 in Marshall. (Kelly Melies/Democrat-News)

When a new business comes into a community, there are challenges. Especially when those challenges include taking over an established business in the community for over 30 years. But, meeting and overcoming those challenges allows the business to be successful.

Ag-Power has done just that by acquiring Deems Farm Equipment after it was sold. At the time of the acquisition of Deems, Ag-Power also acquired Heartland Farm and Lawn and included with it Higginsville, Carrollton, Centerview and Sedalia. General Manager Jeff Oldham said they expanded their area and this past October they acquired Richmond. They now cover about a 10 county area. They cover from Saline County to mainly straight west to the Kansas City metro area, and from Carrollton, south to Sedalia, he said.

Oldham said it was not necessarily a smooth transition.

"There's a long history of the Deems family. So you think about that and there's years and years of experience and really it's years and years of doing things a certain way. And then all of the sudden -- overnight we turn a corner and turn a different direction," Oldham said.

"Think about you always eat with you right hand and you've done it that way for 50 years. Then all of the sudden you're told you got to eat with your left hand," said John Connett, store manager.

Connett was with Deems for 30 years before Ag-Power acquired it last spring.

An assortment of tools and equipment at Ag-Power (formally Deems Farm Equipment) north of Marshall on Highway 65. (Kelly Melies/Democrat-News)

"I guess everybody here was with Don (Julien)," Connett said. "There's been a few that have been hired since then."

Dealing with some of the changes have been difficult, but they seem to be handling it well. Most of the changes have been procedural.

"With Don, the final word was right here. That's not necessarily the case anymore," Connett said. "Bookkeeping isn't done locally anymore."

"I'd say the biggest change was the use of technology. John Deere kind of supplies and facilitates the business system that we work off of and that was going to change whether Ag-Power was going to acquire Marshall or not," Oldham said. "So with Ag-Power coming on-board, we probably accelerated that change because we knew we probably needed to make that upgrade at some point. And understanding how to work within that system has been some of the challenges. I think with time, it's gotten better."

Their future is open. The possibility of expanding or opening more stores depends on the growth and sustainability of what they currently have.

"Sometimes change is good and sometimes it isn't. We have to make sure we're managing through those changes and continuing to improve the service to our customers. Taking care of the present is important for the future," Oldham said. "We have to worry about taking care of those customers today before we worry about what those next opportunities might be."

Connett said through this transition, the customer base has stayed relatively steady, but it is a work in progress.

Connett oversees day-to-day operations and ensures everything runs smoothly. Ag-Power sells toys, Deere merchandise, ag equipment, lawn and garden and portable power equipment -- Honda and Stihl.

"Ninety percent of the equipment is Deere. There are a few short lines, Stihl is a short line," Connett said.

Oldham said they are a full line John Deere dealership. It's like a franchise agreement with Deere.

For more information about Ag-Power, log on to or call 660-886-7474.

Contact Kelly Melies at