When you consider how much consolidation has occurred in agriculture in recent years, it’s refreshing to see a company actually reaching out to farmers in a new territory to expand their product offerings and service range.
Holt Agribusiness, a company that traces its roots back to the original tracked tractor in the Sacramento River Valley in California, has opened a new store in Jonesboro, Ark., its second in the Mississippi Delta and one of four its owners are planning for the region.
And they opened the store in a way that will leave an indelible impression on those attending – a parachute jump from 5,000 feet by Dana Bowman, a retired Special Forces soldier and member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute team. Bowman lost both his legs in an accident when two jumpers collided in a tragic accident in 1994.
Bowman now speaks around the country, spreading his message “It’s not the disability, it’s the ability. Never quit.” Sgt. Bowman is the founder of the HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation. For more on this, visit www.haloforfreedom.org.
“I want to thank every one of you for what you do, what you have done and what you continue to do,” said Bowman after guiding his parachute into a landing inches away from the target near Holt Agribusiness’s gleaming new building. “You are the foundation for this great country, and I want to thank you for allowing me to bring that great flag in for each and everyone of us.”
Allyn Archer, president and chief operating officer, Holt AgriBusiness, said the new facilities represent a long-term commitment by his company.
“We’re here to stay,” he said. “We’re here to support you and provide the best equipment in the world to help your production and your farm. Thank you for being here, thank you for being a part of this and for your business.”
Peter M. Holt, CEO of Holt AgriBusiness, talked about the company’s background and why it is planning two more stores in the region in remarks to those attending and in an interview with Delta Farm Press.
Holt, whose great-grandfather is credited with a number of ag innovations, including the first side-hill combine and the first Caterpillar tractor in 1904, said his company is a “very traditional organization, a very traditional family.”
The great-grandfather, Benjamin Holt, and a brother first arrived in California in the 1880s. They settled in the Stockton area in the Sacramento River Valley where farmers were beginning to grow wheat. The first invention was a horse-drawn “Link-Belt Combined Harvester.” The Caterpillar tractor Benjamin Holt designed in 1904 became the precursor to the Caterpillar Tractor Co., in Peoria, Ill.
“The reason my great-grandfather put the tracks on the tractor was so those machines could work in that Delta area around Stockton,” said Holt. “A lot of people think it was traction, but actually it was for pounds per square inch. It was for floatation, and it was all about the farm business.”
The $4-million facility in Jonesboro includes a 15,000-square-foot sales and parts building for tractors, combines, and attachments from Challenger, Fendt, Massey-Ferguson and Claas/Lexion. A separate, 10,000-square-foot building contains the store’s service department.
“Holt’s new facility in Jonesboro will offer rice, corn, cotton and peanut producers and other ag businesses the finest products and services in the industry, backed with experience from professionals totally committed to their success,” said J.K. Baxter, Holt Agribusiness general manager.”We are here to do whatever it takes to help our customers in this region stay on track.”
“We came to the Delta area because this is where the productivity is,” said Holt. “This is where there are farmers and the farm industry that really understands not only the past but the future.”
Holt said he’s not concerned about the recent downturn in grain prices and their impact on agribusinesses. “We understand the farm cycle. As I said, my dad is still a farmer at 90 years old. All businesses are cyclical at some level, and you just have to understand the cycle.
“We’re not afraid at all. We think it’s a good time to come in.” For more information on the company, go to www.HoltAg.com.