Reconnecting with Customers

Farmer Iron

New boss at McCormick USA aims to revamp and rebuild this fledgling company.

Published on: September 8, 2010

A decade can go by so fast, just ask anyone associated with McCormick USA. Yep it was in 2000 that the brand was acquired by Argo S.p.a. a family-owned manufacturer that already owned the Landini brand (among others). And in the past 10 years, McCormick USA has undergone plenty of changes.

Lately, however, the company has stumbled in a few areas, and that's about to change, if new CEO Doug Rehor has anything to say about it. He acknowledges that the company knows how to build solid equipment, but the "fun happens after the sale with parts and service," he says. And that's where the company has struggled.

Doug Rehor takes on the challenge of moving McCormick USA forward. And he is putting that plan in place quickly.

"There are a lot of quality tractors on the market," he notes. "But service matters."

Rehor is careful as he talks about the past decade of the company. McCormick's owners, the Morra Family, are dedicated to building quality machines. I've interviewed Simeone Morra, who took the reins of the company for a short time a few years back, and there's no question the family wants this business to succeed.

But the tractor market in the United States is different than the rest of the world. It's more competitive and frankly the players here know how to deliver parts from warehouse to dealer quickly.

So how does a new CEO get off on the right foot? In Rehor's case he starts a program called "Walking in Your Shoes: The First Step" aimed at reconnecting the company with its dealers. "We want the dealer to feel that we can back them up," Rehor says.

The program starts with the use of a little bit of technology. Rehor, who came to McCormick from Agco, was involved in the use of SalesForce.com - at the former employer. SalesForce.com is a powerful Web-based tool that can connect all parts of the sales and support functions from company to dealer to customer. He's taking that tool - which is available to any company - and customizing it for McCormick.

"Starting in September, we're offering a new tool to our dealers called Ask Cyrus," Rehor says. That's Cyrus as in Cyrus McCormick by the way.

With this program - actually a customized shell that makes SalesForce.com a custom system for the company - McCormick will enhance its relationship with dealers and through to customers.

"If you have a question you go to Ask Cyrus for parts, service or warranty questions and you'll see the picture of the person that's helping you out," Rehor explains. That's a first step, creating a kind of accountability between the person with a need and the dealer or company.

This connectivity will enhance responsiveness to customers and dealers at a time when Rehor is concentrating on some back-room improvements too; Including working through a large, out-dated parts inventory and fine-tuning the support systems so dealers in the field feel comfortable selling these red tractors. Not an easy task, but Rehor has the support of the Morra family and knows he can move efficiently to make the changes he sees necessary.

For the McCormick buyer there will be changes. If Rehor succeeds with his Ask Cyrus approach to the field, you'll be able to get warranty questions answered sooner, parts support will be more efficient, which leads to better service. Rehor says there were short-term moves made in the past aimed at pumping up unit sales, but McCormick wasn't geared to be that big a player. "We don't want 10% market share," he says. "We want to have long term growth the right way."

In a press kit distributed at the Farm Progress Show, Rehor makes a comment in a cover letter: "In order to be successful, we need to 'walk in the shoes' of our dealers and their customers each and every day. If we do that, we will understand exactly what we need to do to earn and keep their business. And we will."

Strong words, but necessary if Rehor wants McCormick USA back on track.


Special Note: Join me for a Tweetup and Social Media discussion on Tuesday or Wednesday at Husker Harvest Days, Sept. 14 or 15 in the Nebraska Farmer Hospitality Tent on the show grounds. The event is at 2 p.m. each day. Sponsored by Slingshot by Raven, this event offers you a chance to get more information about how you can use social media to promote your farm; and you'll learn about a new precision ag tool that enhances technology use on your farm.

Make plans to join us.