In January, I was given the opportunity to attend one of John Deere’s Customer Experience Fly-Ins, a two-day trip for landscape contractors and lawn care professionals around the country. These Fly-In events include a tour of the company’s Turf Care factory in Cary, N.C., a chance to visit the corporate offices and the ability to talk to their engineers, product managers, marketing representatives, district managers and finance personnel, as well as a chance to experience the equipment firsthand. On the first day, we took a tour of the factory where commercial mowers are made and got to see exactly what it takes to put a mower together, from welding the frame to installing the engine to how the parts are painted – including all of the safety steps and quality control measures the workers need to follow.
Also on the first day, we were given an overview of many of its newer products, including mowers, utility vehicles, compact utility tractors and worksite equipment, from the company’s product managers. Ride-n-Drive time followed the product presentations, giving attendees a chance to try out the equipment. It was a cool 29 degrees out that afternoon, but that didn’t stop the test-driving. There was a utility vehicle trail through the woods, and a spot out back to dig with the compact equipment.
The next morning consisted of roundtable discussions, with topics including John Deere Landscapes/Finance; Parts and Service; Design/Build/Install; and Commercial Mowing Products. These gave the contractors a chance to share their wants, needs and challenges-and pretty much anything – with company representatives, who were open to any and all feedback from the attendees. From there we headed to the airport and back home.
Regardless of the brand of equipment you prefer to use, if you ever get a chance to tour the factory where it is made or meet with the engineers and talk to the product managers that develop it, I highly recommend you do. The in-depth knowledge you can learn about the people that put their blood, sweat and tears into these products is worth checking out, as these equipment manufacturers are an important part of your company’s success.
Amy K. Hill