Supporting farmers and building lasting relationships throughout their agricultural journey
Agriculture is a vast world that encompasses many different areas—each one a moving part that contributes to the success of producers and the industry in its own way. Agriculture sales and equipment dealerships are just one of those many moving parts, supporting farmers by providing them with the right equipment and right technology for their operations.
Jim Wood, Chief Sales and Operations Officer at Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME), knows this very well. He oversees the whole RME operations division, consisting of thirty-six dealerships in Western Canada and about eight hundred employees.
Before RME, Wood built up an extensive career in agriculture sales. But his career path didn’t exactly start in agriculture—back in his high school days, he pursued trades through the work experience program.
“I knew I wasn’t going be a doctor, lawyer, or a nuclear scientist. I always knew that my path was through a trade. And that's what I did—I apprenticed [and] I got my parts journeyman ticket,” says Wood.
Right after graduation, Wood moved to Red Deer to work as a parts person at a John Deere dealership, working directly with clients to supply the proper replacement parts for their farming equipment. From there he transferred to the sales department for six years before being promoted to sales manager. In 2002, he moved to Calgary for a division manager position with Cervus Equipment. Then in 2011, he started at RME as vice president. After five years, he transitioned into his current role as chief sales and operations officer.
With thirty-four years in the ag equipment business, Wood understands the dynamic nature of the industry. Like producers and farmers, he needs to keep a close eye on many factors in the industry.
“When you deal with farmers, you're entrenched in weather patterns and grain prices, because their livelihood is your livelihood,” says Wood.
“Even though you're not farming, the dealership is directly tied to the success [of farmers], the habits of farmers, the practices of farmers, and so on and so forth.”
RME is an agriculture equipment dealership that focuses on supporting farmers and producers whether that’s providing them with new equipment and the latest in agtech, providing loaner equipment, or offering around the clock repairs. All of this is possible with extensive planning and decisions that are made by Wood and his team in order to support RME’s many dealerships.
“The way I look at it is, the dealerships are the frontline. They're the ones that deal with the customer on a day-to-day basis,” says Wood.
Wood knows exactly what it’s like to be on the frontlines of an equipment dealership. His time as a parts person and sales representative taught him the importance of maintaining client-employee relationships. His face-to-face experience with customers taught him the value of customer service and the critical role they play within a dealership.
“I relate to the challenges every day. What our staff go through, what our customers need, and how we need to operate to support them. The key is to provide solutions for our customers, and corporately, we focus on how we can support the branches in doing so,” says Wood.
For example, during the busiest time of the year for farmers, RME technicians will do equipment repairs right on the farm, so clients don’t need to bring their equipment into a dealership.
“A lot of our work is done out on the farm, because [our customers are] busy trying to seed or harvest, and man, [our road technicians] work their butts off. Customers can’t say enough about how great these guys are and how dedicated they are to them, their farm, and making sure they’re up and running, along with all the branch staff,” says Wood.
RME’s commitment creates lasting business relationships. In such a competitive industry, that’s what keeps clients coming back. Some client relationships last years, even generations—Wood himself still remains in touch with clients from back in his days as a salesman over thirty years ago.
“What's unique about our business is the relationships. [Our sales, parts, and service teams] build that trust, and as long as we continue to provide the solutions the customer requires, then we get to continue doing business with the customer,” says Wood.
Agriculture is a very multi-faceted industry with various paths to follow. But what Wood values the most is the community aspect of the industry. Throughout his career, he made life-long connections in agriculture.
“If you're looking for a career and not just a job, the opportunities are endless. [It’s] the ability to work in a rural setting, actually belong to a community, and contribute, while creating these long-term relationships,” says Wood.
“I made a lot of good friends and acquaintances along the way. You'll find as you talk to more and more people that are in ag, there's something to say about dealing with farmers.”