Farmer Iron
loadall-at-work JCB

Pushing past the barrier of tradition

Farm equipment innovation sometimes does take time, especially when you're breaking old habits.

During a farm show you can strike up some great conversations. While I was visiting with Ray Bingley at the JCB exhibit during the National Farm Machinery Show last month we talked about telescopic handlers.

JCB is a pioneer in this product segment. It launched the Loadall 40 years ago and has been a long time player in these machines. And telehandlers are a big deal in Europe. A trip to Agritechnica is an eye opener when you see how many telehandler manufacturers are out there. It's a versatile machine that's gained a lot of ground "over there." But no so much here.

Ray Bingley is the general manager of ag sales for JCB and he and I talked about the challenge of opening the telehandler market in the U.S. It seems part of the problem is tradition.

"A farmer will get a skid-steer loader, and when his needs evolve he'll move up to a tractor with loader," Bingley said. The final step in the cycle if the farm needs more material handling is a full wheel loader. In the U.S. the telehandler isn't usually considered as part of that three step process, when Bingley noted it makes more sense to go skid-steer to telehandler to wheel loader.

"The American farmer is very traditional," Bingley said. "And they don't know how much more productive the telehandler can be." He noted that the telehandler can do work much faster, reach higher and has faster cycle times than a tractor/loader combo.

He noted however that one comment often heard by telehandler sales people is the fact that the tractor/loader combo means having a spare tractor around. "Yet, in reality, the tractor is never used without the loader on the farm," he said.

Tradition versus innovation. It's an interesting sales challenge for companies bringing new ways to do things into the market. As you look at your equipment efficiencies around the farm, and keep refining your capital purchase plans for the future, are there tools and innovations you're leaving out due to "tradition"? Tough question, but perhaps one worth answering.

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