Farmer Iron

Changing of the Guard

Equipment association leader to step down after four decades of service.

The announcement came this week. News that a replacement has been chosen to fill some pretty big shoes. For those of us who follow the farm equipment business, the associations of company members are a valuable resource. And the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association has been an important voice for a wide range of machinery makers.

For 40 years the name editors called when they had questions was "Bob" - that would be Robert Schnell, the informed and connected guy who could be counted on to add a little perspective to what was happening in the market. But this year, Schnell told his board it was time for him to ride off into the sunset and he plans to make that ride at the end of the year. So the FEMA board faced a challenge? Who to call on to fill the role so ably handled by Schnell over the years?

The answer, announced by Ricky Brown, Brown Manufacturing Company and this year's FEMA President, is Vernon Schmidt. The choice of Schmidt for the role was unanimous at the group's Spring Management Clinic in Phoenix, Ariz. Schmidt is a familiar face to the organization since he joined in 1995, where he started out as director of membership services and as convention manager. Lately he's been involved with the organizations state legislative efforts.

Schmidt knows what he's getting into working with a diverse group of companies that continue to innovate in an important industry. In the next few years, with Schmidt taking the helm, FEMA will have to steer through a lot of interesting twists and turns - starting with this economy.

While Schnell has a few more months left on his official tenure - no rest until Jan. 2010 Bob - Schmidt is already at work on the transition I'm sure.

For farmers, perhaps all you know about FEMA is a familiar logo that appears on a lot of member equipment (the one you see in this post to the left) showing that the maker is a member of the group. The association has been hard at work since 1950 as the voice of the small manufacturer of specialized farm equipment and it has plenty of work to do - and Schmidt knows the road ahead. We wish him good luck, and offer our congrats (a little ahead of what will be many I'm sure) to Bob as he shifts from Executive Vice President to "past" Executive Vice President.

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