AGCO’s Hesston, Kansas, combine assembly plant gives customers a special welcome when they come to see their machine built
This is a big thing for me,” says Kevin Bien, AGCO’s brand marketing manager for Gleaner, referring to the company’s customer factory visit program for combines. “I started thinking, if a customer wants to come to our plant to see his combine built, what could I do to make it special. We want this to be a really neat occasion. They’ve made a $400,000 investment, so when they come I want this to be a special and fulfilling event.”
Bein calls the program he created the Silver Medallion Customer VIP Experience. To help make customers feel like a VIP right from the start, the first thing they see on entering the plant’s driveway is a personalized sign or banner welcoming them by name, which they get to take home with them at the end of the tour. “You can’t believe how many people over the years have hung these up in their steel building or other places,” says Bien, who notes it’s something many customers really appreciate having as a souvenir. “We’ve had people asking many of us to sign the banners,” he adds.
The banner isn’t the only souvenir customers will be taking home with them. Bien or one of the other plant staff will present them with a Leeds embossed key fob, money clip and pen set at the end of the assembly line. And a professional photographer will be following them around during their visit. A selection of images will be burned onto a DVD and given to each customer.
Driving off the line
But a visit to Hesston will be more than just a photo op. Customers will get to drive their machine off the line and watch as it gets put through its paces in the factory’s new dyno testing station and 120 step final inspection process.
Customers can also choose between 90 minute or a 2-1/2 hour private, guided tour of the Hesston plant — a very large facility that builds haying equipment as well. Bien says customers often bring a larger group of friends and tour several AGCO plants before arriving at the Hesston facility.
“We get a lot of customers that want to go to one of our other plants (too),” he explains. “I’ve had groups come down with a bus. Depending on where they’re from, they’ll stop in Jackson (Minnesota), go down to Beloit (Kansas) and then come over to Hesston. So they actually see three plants.”
In the last year, AGCO has made investments in updating its manufacturing plants, including the Hesston facility. “We’ve just added a $45 million upgraded painting system,” says Bien. Along with that the plant employs new robotic welders that fabricate combine rotors. And much of the basic machining required to create components from raw stock also takes place in Hesston. “It’s a very vertically integrated plant,” he adds. “It’s a fun plant to go through.” †