Ag Dealer Marks Big Expansion

9/21/2013 7:00 AM
By Philip Gruber Staff Writer

BIGLERVILLE, Pa. — Farm equipment field days offer manufacturers and distributors a chance to spotlight their newest and most advanced machines. Independent Ag’s Sept. 12 field day was also a chance to celebrate a year of rapid growth.

The equipment distributor, which works mainly with retailers, large farmers and municipalities, has plunged into the tractor market for the first time and become a dealer for Wacker Neuson, a company that is itself diversifying by expanding from the concrete to the agricultural sector.

“We have a lot of exciting new products,” said Mark Anderson, Independent Ag’s president.

The addition of Wacker products follows the discontinuation of the Wrangler loader, which Independent Ag had carried. Instead of having only one Wrangler, buyers will now have 10 Wacker loaders to choose from.

“With the exit of the Wrangler loader, there’s going to be a lot more of those (Wacker loaders) going in,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he is particularly excited about the 750T model, which is the only loader in the industry with a telescoping arm.

“That’s going to be a huge addition to our line,” he said.

Sam Veneziale, Wacker’s Pennsylvania district manager, praised the host company’s service and support. “That was a big part of our decision to partner with Independent Ag,” he said.

Independent Ag started in 1977 as GVM Inc. It initially made fertilizer applicators as an arm of Adams County fertilizer manufacturer Andgrow. GVM changed its name to Independent Ag Equipment last year and put a tractor in its logo.

The tractor baffled some people, as GVM-Independent Ag until that time had focused on application equipment and parts, Anderson said.

The symbol turned out to be a way to highlight a new product emphasis, in much the way Dunkin Donuts dropped its signature pastry from its emblem in favor of a coffee cup to highlight its most popular product.

Adding tractors was a natural fit for Independent Ag’s customer base, mainly retailers and large farmers, Anderson said.

Independent Ag has become a distributor for Versatile tractors, ranging from 350 to 550 horsepower. It will also pick up Versatile’s sprayers to replace SpraCoupe’s products. Independent Ag showed off its GVM Prowler sprayers at the field day.

Some of the newest enhancements on the Prowlers include a chassis that is made 75 percent of corrosion-resistant material, all-electronic boom controls, a more durable seal on the suspension pump and a five-year engine and transmission warranty.

The company has also added Norwood seed tenders, and the day before the field day Anderson signed a contract to distribute a full line of McCormick tractors.

At the field day, Anderson announced the release of the GVM PowerPlatform, a multipurpose vehicle designed for Independent Ag’s municipal customers that has been several years in the making. The PowerPlatform handles snow plowing, anti-ice road treating, snow blowing, mowing and other road-related jobs.

Government equipment accounts for only about 20 percent of the company’s business, with most of the company’s sales coming from the farming side, Anderson said.

Dan Miller, a Schaeffer Oil salesman who used to work for GVM, said he enjoyed the field day and called it a “chance to connect” with old clients and co-workers as well as to make new acquaintances.

Bill Nash, who works for The Mill of Black Horse in White Hall, Md., said he was impressed with how fuel-efficient the equipment has become. He came mostly to admire, though, as he expects his large machinery purchases are about 20 years down the road.

Frank Price, a farmer from Hampstead, Md., agreed with Nash that he is not necessarily in the market for equipment. Price uses a sprayer, so he appreciated keeping current on the equipment.

Still, Independent Ag’s salesmen kept busy, offering test drives throughout the day on a dozen pieces of equipment. The day started with a downpour but soon became sunny and warm.

About 110 people attended the field day.

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