Farmer Iron

End of an Era?

A brand switch up at a major machinery company means changes ahead in 2010...and beyond.

Anyone who follows the farm equipment business knows that change happens. The list of brand names that have merged and disappeared over the past 30 years alone is surprising. Now comes word that Agco Corporation's next step in its brand strategy is to ease away from Agco.

The company formed after Allis-Chalmers was bought by Deutz Fahr to create Deutz-Allis and was spun out in 1990 as the "Allis-Gleaner Company" - or AGCO. There was a trademark dispute back then that stopped the use of the Allis name in the ag brand so Agco became the tractor brand.

Of course that was just the start as Agco acquired Massey-Ferguson, Fendt, and a host of other lines to create a new, big player in the world ag equipment market. Today, Agco Corporation is a world-spanning operation, but in the United States it may have too many brands. Keeping a lot of those plates spinning on the poles - like an old Ed Sullivan Show performer - gets hard in a fast-paced market like today's.

Two years ago, Agco announced it was moving toward a three-brand strategy with Agco, Massey-Ferguson and the more-recent Challenger line taking the lead. Other brands, including Hesston and White planters, were paired with brands. That led to Hesston by Massey-Ferguson branding on some equipment (just one example) - in an effort to pull everything together.

The latest step in this nearly 20-year process, is to pull away from the Agco brand tractors and push ahead with Massey-Ferguson and Challenger. While the move raises questions about dealers and product support, if there's one thing the folks at Agco know it's this: customers are valuable.

The Agco brand has a complete line and the move away from the brand will occur during 2010 aiming for 2011 for the end of the transition, according to the company. Dealers with the brand will have options, and corporate managers are moving ahead with those.

This change is all part of the process in an industry that's more flexible than most. The success of the Agco Corporation strategy will play out across the country as farmers and dealers work together to move forward. We'll keep you posted on what we hear. But judging by how nimble Agco has been in recent years, we expect this next step in the company's evolution to be relatively smooth.

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