Equipment sales are a mixed bag at the state fair

By Joseph L. Murphy

The Iowa State Fair had a record number of people visit but ag retailers weren’t seeing the same numbers in sales. Farm equipment sales were hit and miss this year according to several vendors and they place the blame on low commodity prices that are slowing sales of the new equipment.

 Visitors to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa look at a new John Deere tractor. New equipment sales have been sluggish in the face of a worsening farm economy. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

Visitors to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa look at a new John Deere tractor. New equipment sales have been sluggish in the face of a worsening farm economy. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy)

 

“Sales have been considerably slower,” Tony Rockwell of Sully Farm Sales said. “We’ve had less traffic and people are slower to pull the trigger.”

Rockwell sells grain dryers, augers and other farm equipment near the Varied Industries Building on the fairgrounds. He attributes the slower traffic and sales to current grain prices.

“Our big seller during the fair is grain handling augers and portable augers and they still have time to buy the equipment before harvest so I’m optimistic the sales will come,” he said.

Gene Willis, an Ag Sales Territory Manager for Van Wall Equipment in Story City, says that only 15 to 20 percent of the traffic for the dealer is farmers.

“We’re trying to entice more than just the ag market. The farmer doesn’t come here to view equipment, they go to the two big ag shows,” Willis said.

According to Willis, that’s why they brought more compact utilities and lawn equipment to the fair and changed their exhibit to entice large yard and acreage owners.

“There are some people that are gun-shy to pull the trigger right now. But we still see a lot of interest, especially with the cattle people,” Cali Arnold, the office manager of EBY Trailers in Story City said.

Arnold added that they have customers that will trade every two years, regardless of the economy. But she said in most cases the customers they see this year are trading into something newer. She doesn’t see that changing much in the near future.

“There might be some hesitancy, and people might not be as aggressive as a year ago, but there still is a lot of interest and sales have been good,” Tom Olin with Stronghold manufacturing said.

He has noticed that fewer people are “Kicking the tires” and foot traffic through his display was less this year, but the people stopping and talking were serious about buying.

“We get a lot of traffic because we’ve been around, and people know us. We are celebrating our 50th year in Clarion, and we plan on selling great products for 50 more years,” Olin said.

Originally published for the Iowa Soybean Association. Find more great stories at: www.iasoybeans.com/news