Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 is one more thing that will be on our minds this seeding season. Hopefully, its effects will be minimal to our agricultural community. Regardless of how the pandemic plays out, seeders will still roll across the Prairies this spring. Those same machines, once rolling, will inevitably break down and need to be repaired. What will parts and service availability look like in these uncertain times? Prairie provinces have been unanimous in keeping essential businesses, like agriculture, open and their necessary supply chains running.
Implement dealers across the Prairies have also been quick with their response. “We want to help as much as possible,” says Martin Raupers, service operations manager for AgWest Ltd. in Manitoba, whose plan is as always to keep machines moving this spring. The business will still be offering in-shop and call-out service. Precautions are being taken to protect customers and employees alike. AgWest has implemented a rigorous glove safety policy for their technicians and has taken additional precautions like propping open doors at their facilities to minimize personal contact.
Jim Wood, chief sales and operations officer for Rocky Mountain Equipment says the same thing. Stores will remain open, parts will be available, machines will be fixed. However, all of this will be dependent on keeping staff safe. The company has limited branch-to-branch travel for employees, as well as increased the cleaning protocol within their locations, especially in high-traffic areas.
Most dealerships are offering curbside parts pickup. It’s also better if customers stay out of stores as much as possible and to limit those visits to essential business only. Additionally, it’s not the best time to go kick tires in showrooms.
If a call-out is needed, farmers should try to keep their distances from technicians and mechanics who may be working on machinery. Try to wipe down and disinfect surfaces before and after service personnel work on equipment, particularly monitors and armrest controls and anything that is constantly being touched or in close quarters with operators.
Furthermore, information and policy may change quickly as the pandemic and seeding take their course. Check in with your local parts and service suppliers regularly online or over the phone to remain up to date about business hours, practices and policies. Help keep yourself and others safe so we can all keep laying down acres this spring.