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Getting a Big Act Together

A farm equipment firm comes out swinging after a few years 'out of the game.'

What do you say about a company that for a few years didn't appear to be pushing its way toward bigger market shares? Companies fail all the time, but if you're the subsidiary of a global conglomerate with a solid reputation of production and engineering, failure might not be an option.

This week my colleague John Vogel offered a report on New Holland in what he called the company's extreme make-over. Of course to admit that is to admit that the house needed remodeling in the first place. That's an idea you don't see often.

But Abe Hughes, vice president of New Holland North America, told the media gathered in New Holland that the company was back in the game. Does that mean Hughes was admitting that the company was out of the game at any point? More like that dazed competitor wandering the sidelines after a solid hit trying to figure out the best direction. Shaking off the hit, the competitor comes charging back in. We'll see if New Holland does any charging.

Those big blue cat-eye machines stand out in a crowd. And while they share some underpinnings with their Case IH brethren, Hughes is working hard at differentiating that line.

I have covered the Case IH/New Holland marriage from the start, watching to see if the lines can maintain their own brand DNA, as it were. From what Hughes is telling the media, it appears that much is true. However, and this is critical, the next step is you the customer, and the management team has to make sure you have what you need in your area to make a New Holland investment.

It's pretty easy to get motivated at a company event pointing out all the good stuff, but New Holland also knows it has to shore up its Midwest dealer organization while providing it's most loyal customer base with added service. It will deal with those challenges and more given the energy apparent in the new management team.

It is also refreshing for New Holland to remember it has a forage- and hay-making history that at one time was unmatched in the market. At the National Farm Machinery Show we saw our share of new higher end tools geared toward the more volume-intensive forage-making market. Sometimes going back to your roots can open your eyes to new opportunities - it appears to be true for New Holland with its new high capacity systems including the 512/530 front- and rear-mount mowers designed to move quickly through a forage stand. That's the future of feed-making and New Holland can play well in that market.

We'll be watching the company going forward to see how this retooled management team moves this company forward. New Holland has some inherent strengths that can help it build market share again. It will be fun to watch this make-over unfold.

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