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NURSERIES • Market Opportunities

Rick Pantano (center), shown here with his team from Pantano Power Equipment, Manalapan Township, N.J., supplies nursery owners in his market with Husqvarna power tools, including chain saws and trimmers.

popular and this is his fi rst year selling the Walker line of mowers. He’s even seen some interest in the Husqvarna propane mower.

Pantano pushes the advantage of a single line for power tools. “Nurseries are proud of their equipment and like keeping things uniform. Service is also very important. They don’t like down- time. By dealing with one brand, they can stock up on parts,” Pantano says. Jason Johnson, territory manager

for Washington Tractor, a John Deere dealership with nine locations in Washington state, sells compact trac-

tors and skid steers as well as grounds maintenance equipment. His dealer- ship carries Billy Goat’s line of mowing and debris equipment.

Promote Service — Reduce Downtime

Broken down equipment delays schedules and adds costs, so outstand- ing service is another way dealerships can best serve the nursery market. However, dealers indicate that the level of service requirements can vary. Pantano Power Equipment has four service technicians and one is desig- nated for priority work, such as nurs- eries and landscapers.

Dealer Takeaways

• Nursery owners use a wide variety of equipment. Visit local nurseries personally to under- stand an operation’s total needs.

• Minimal downtime is important for nurseries, especially during the busy season. Offer the kind of service arrangement that meets their specifi c needs.

• Simple, durable equipment is preferred by many nursery own- ers. Be sure to have equipment on the lot to capture short-notice sales.

“When they need a machine, they need it now. Waiting a week or 10 days is unacceptable,” Pantano says. Many times, the technician works on the machine while the customer waits. Despite operators’ need for maximum uptime, Pantano says he doesn’t sell many service packages.

“They’re more interested in war- ranties. They’ll get the best warran- ties even if it costs more. Margins are down and people are more concerned about how long before the equipment starts costing them money. That’s why companies that are extending warran- ties are winning them over,” he says. Morris of White Star Machinery agrees, saying nurseries are holding


on to equipment longer before trading in for new. He works with nurseries to set up pre-season checks and sends out service trucks to larger nurseries. “You have to make sure they are running smoothly. Make sure their maintenance is getting done. If a machine breaks down, you think the world is going to end. But, in their case it just about does,” says Morris. Puig of Everglades Farm Equipment says the nurseries in his area tend to do a lot of service themselves, but that doesn’t keep the dealership from try- ing to win service business. “We try to offer discounted service because we know how tough it can be,” he says.

Uncover Equipment Needs Johnson of Washington Tractor says nursery owners may be looking for basic tractors, but there are still possi- bilities for add-on sales — if you under- stand how they will use the machine. “Go in and really fi nd out what they need, what makes them money and what makes sense. You can be an ally and strengthen their business,” he says. Pantano says visiting nurseries is an important sales strategy for his

“You need to have equipment on hand. They don’t want to wait...”

business. “They are ‘show-me’ kinds of people. They want to know ‘Are you going to be there to service me and how fast can I get my equipment back?’” Pantano says.

Puig says their direct sales team visits nurseries and fi nds other ways to connect, such as by joining the state nursery association.

OVS has an agronomist on staff to supplement equipment and supply sales. “We consider ourselves profession- als serving professionals,” Curry of OVS says. The dealership used to have outside salespeople for the nursery

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