Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Corporate business

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Recently Gov. Jay Nixon visited a business in Higginsville and touted the wonders of a corporate business rebuilding following a fire. He stated the corporate business was such an asset to the area.

What Nixon failed to state, or perhaps his speech writer didn't research, was this corporate business based out of state deposited their sales in their account out of state. This is the same as many corporate businesses operate leaving a local community sapped of financial resources. I asked what is so great about these businesses not supporting our communities? What this corporation did was close down six area dealerships that contributed to their area's economy by keeping their money from sales within their areas. Now like many out-of-state corporations, the income ends up at their headquarters and the local economy suffers. This is unlike the six sold businesses that took pride in helping their local communities thrive. Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of corporations such as John Deere, where the local business could not be transferred to an individual but according to the rules handed down by Deeres' corporate headquarters, you must have multiple dealerships and if the number is five or more, a CEO is required. This was definitely not the concept envisioned by Mr. John Deere as to serving the farming community originally. One may state that this is the 21st century, however, serving the agriculture community has definitely not changed.

Just as Deere wanted to supply products to the farmer so too did Mr. John Deems when he opened his first dealership in 1939. Deems' business motto was he was to serve the farmer and to service what he sold to them. This was the teaching Deems passed on to his three sons when he and his wife started their sons in dealerships of their own. They were all successful in their businesses because of their teachings of good relations of the business world. In fact, the local dealership was one of the top dealerships in a five state area several times. The three sons, Harley in Marshall, Lloyd in Lawrence, Kan., and Lelan in Butler, all made their top priority the farmer in their business dealings.

This seemed to be the practice of John Deere in the beginning, by the farmer giving input to the company. However, this same company seems to dictate from their corporate headquarters what the local dealerships can and cannot do. Input would be welcome, but not decisions rammed down the dealers throats is not good practice. It is the farmer who uses these products and who knows better what their workings need to be?

According to the new owners website, he was a former employee of the John Deere corporate organization which explains many of the changes brought to the dealerships where farmers did come in to purchase parts. Now when they come in for a particular part, it may not be available. Someone else has just been in an hour earlier and needed the same part and since the new dealer doesn't keep multiple parts, you are left waiting one, two or three days for a replacement to arrive. During Deems ownership, many seasonal multiple parts were available and numerous other dealers called on Deems for a part they needed. The new owner sent back many of what they deemed excess parts, but this is what made Deems such a success. Stop a present day farmer and ask how they view the corporate way of doing business now as compared to local ownership and they might just fill your ears full. This is just the tip of the iceberg of dealing with corporate ownership and many farmers are fed up of the new (improved) way and this county may no longer be so inclined to be a member of the long green line in the future.


--Ed Zahn,

retired agriculture executive (farmer)