Last March, Grainews editor Leeann Minogue and her husband traveled to Nebraska to see their new Case IH combine come off the assembly line at CNH’s Grand Island plant. (You can read about their experience in this article in the current issue of Grainews.)
This kind of working vacation is becoming more and more popular with farmers who want to learn more about how their equipment is made.
Jim Moellenbernadt, the marketing specialist manager who oversees the customer drive-off program for New Holland combines at the CNH Nebraska plant says, “We’ve actually done a lot more (customer visits) this year because of the later spring.”
All major brands offer farmers who buy one of their new combines the chance to be a VIP for the day. In most cases, farmers aren’t just watchers — they actually get involved.
“We like to have (the customer) there before the engine is started for the first time,” Mollenbernadt says. “He’ll be the one to turn the key and start the engine for the first time. Then he gets to sit in the seat with the technician as it goes through its dyno checks. He’ll also have the opportunity then to watch the final check at the end of the line and drive the combine off the end of the line.”
If your new combine is green, you can take part in John Deere’s Gold Key program, which arranges for special customer factory tours. This program originally just applied to tractors and combines, but has been expanded to include most of Deere’s U.S. assembly plants, providing opportunities for buyers of a pretty wide variety of ag equipment to see their machines being built.
“We have the best tour program in the industry,” says Barry Nelson, Deere’s North American media relations manager. (Read more about John Deere’s tours in Scott Garvey’s article.)
Early last summer Agco opened its Intivity Center at its Jackson, Minnesota, tractor and sprayer assembly plant, which gives visitors to the facility a look at some of the history of the machines built there. Customers purchasing new mid- or high-horsepower Agco tractors or sprayers can see their machines on the assembly line at the Jackson plant.
Buyers of Gleaner combines can take part in the Silver Medallion Customer VIP Experience, created by Kevin Bien, Agco’s brand marketing manager for Gleaner.
“We want this to be a really neat occasion,” Bien says. “They’ve made a $400,000 investment, so when they come I want this to be a special and fulfilling event.”