Stepping Up: Brett Barriage works with Dealer Institute to help John Deere dealers succeed


trainer at NAEDA’s Dealer Institute as well as a CEO Mentor with Building Champions.


With his time at Dealer Institute, Barriage wants to emphasize that dealers should take advantage of their membership in NAEDA and have the courage to step outside their comfort zone to find greater success.

After making the move to step down as the CEO and shareholder at a successful John Deere dealership in January 2020, Brett Barriage considers himself “semi-retired” as he facilitates annual meetings within the Dealer Institute and is a CEO member a company called Building Champions.

Prior to his retirement, Barriage was a member of the pre-merged version of NAEDA (North American Equipment Dealers Association), WEDA, where he helped lead growth of Premier and took advantage of member-exclusive opportunities.

“I was familiar with the association, used different resources, attended conferences, used some of the personnel service training, and just knew Michael and knew John and Larry through that interaction,” Barriage said. “Then, back in 2020, I retired as CEO and shareholder from the dealership. I was just looking to slow down; a different pace of life.”

He sat through many of the various trainings provided by Dealer Institute and took the opportunity to work as a trainer when presented by Michael Piercy, Vice President of Dealer Development at the Dealer Institute.

Through the Dealer Institute, Barriage focuses on meetings at least once to twice a year with John Deere dealers to share “financial information, set goals and targets that are approved by their peers, be accountable for their performance and how they did on those goals and targets.”

In addition to facilitating those meetings, which typically take in January or February with a standard follow-up around June, he works to compile scorecards that evaluate Dealers performance in comparison to established benchmarks that challenge Dealers to perform with excellence.

Barriage’s experience as CEO of a dealership helps him understand exactly what these dealers might need and how to help them get the most out of each meeting.

“There’s a unique perspective with the experience of having run a dealership,” Barriage said. “I understand. I’ve been there in their seats. All these guys and ladies are great leaders and are great at what they do, but you can ask the questions sometimes and just challenge a little bit.”

He believes his understanding of the challenges of running a dealership helps him guide the dealers through their growth process.

“Having sat in their seat in the actual groups themselves and having gone through the goal and benchmark process a number of times as a dealer, just gives me a good sense of what you as a dealer go through on a daily basis. It’s important because you’re investing a fair bit to be there,” he said.

With his time at Dealer Institute, Barriage wants to emphasize that dealers should take advantage of their membership in NAEDA and have the courage to step outside their comfort zone to find greater success.

“There’s just some great resources and be as aware of that as you can… and don’t hesitate to improve your staff; improve yourself, your organization, which is hard because a lot of the leaders of dealerships are often shareholders or entrepreneurs, so sometimes, it takes a little bit of humility to reach outside of your organization to get some help,” Barriage said.

In addition to his work with the Dealer Institute, Barriage spends his semi-retired work-life working with CEO’s and senior execs through Building Champions.

“I’ve always had a passion for excellence and leadership,” he said. “It’s always been something that I’ve strived to do for myself… but also other leaders around me to be excellent. That covers so many areas, whether it’s performance goals, performance to metrics.”

Building Champions and Dealer Institute allows Barriage the opportunity to use his knowledge and experience to help others grow and reach their full potential.

“There’s so many great resources out there (through NAEDA) to help you grow your dealership,” Barriage said. “Take the step and make sure you reach out to find what’s best for you, but don’t be too proud to reach beyond your own background and experience to get what you can outside of the organization, through NAEDA, or whoever, to really help you grow. Sometimes, that outside perspective can be a very powerful in terms of growth.”

Article Written by NAEDA Staff


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