Mesa Tractor Inc. by Lynn Grooms
Jed and Sarah Dixon are the owners and operators of a single-store equipment dealership. Like fellow dealers, they see industry pressure to add stores and capitalize on economies of scale.
“But in that process, I think customer service is being lost,” Jed Dixon says. “By being family-owned and directly involved, it’s easier to maintain a high level of service.”
The Dixons are extremely involved in the business established in 1963 by Ralph and Lila King. In 1978 the Kings sold their dealership to Mark and Patricia Hopkins, Sarah Dixon’s parents.
The Dixons own and operate the dealership today. With the help of six full-time employees, they sell and service Kubota tractors, mowers, utility vehicles, construction equipment and farm implements.
They also offer Land Pride, Stihl and Walker equipment. Mesa Tractor serves as Walker’s exclusive distributor in New Mexico. Mesa Tractor sells Walker mowers to four other dealerships in the state in addition to selling the equipment itself.
Making it work
Mesa Tractor serves customers within a 150-mile radius of Albuquerque. Dixon attributes the dealership’s success to four main factors:
- hands-on ownership,
- low employee turnover,
- customer service, and
- inventory management.
Being hands-on owners enables the Dixons to build and maintain strong relationships with their employees. They have little turnover – some employees have worked at Mesa Tractor for more than 25 years, notes Jed Dixon. Those years of experience add to the team’s product knowledge and the ability to match customers with the correct equipment, he says.
“We respect that our employees have lives and we treat them right – if we’re making money they’re making money,” he says.
Regular communication with employees keeps him apprised of how departments are doing and to avoid surprises.
Running a tight ship
Dixon says the dealership pays close attention to inventory control. “We run a tight ship,” he says.
Of used equipment, he adds. “You have to buy it right. Salespeople aren’t always the best estimators in terms of what repairs may be needed.”
Good demand for used Kubota equipment also helps with inventory management, he says. The dealership sells and services Kubota tractors with engines ranging from 18- to 140-horsepower.
But there are also challenges. More customers, for example, are using the internet to shop for the lowest price.
“When we meet face-to-face we have the ability to match the customer with his or her needs,” Dixon says. “It’s difficult to sell customer service on the internet.”
So when customers visit the Mesa Tractor store, the dealership’s team members work as hard as possible to share their product knowledge and experience. They work to match the right product with the customer’s needs, Dixon says.
Asked about what he’s most proud of at the dealership, Dixon says that it’s not easy to keep a dealership running for 56 years. That’s especially the case when challenged by manufacturers’ increasing focus on expansion and customer focus on low pricing, he says.
“We have to adapt to changes,” he says. “We can’t let it get to us.”
Dixon also has goals for the future. He’d like to have a larger store. Mesa Tractor has been in the same location since 1963. Meanwhile, Albuquerque has grown around the store. The dealership is landlocked so it would need to be relocated.
Mesa Tractor is a single-store dealership. But that doesn’t mean Dixon is averse to growth. He has been a member of the Western Equipment Dealers Association, formerly the SouthWestern Association, for nearly 50 years. He’s used dealer-management resources that WEDA offers to help members grow their business, he says. One example is using industry benchmarks to compare his dealership’s performance to dealerships of similar size.
“That has helped me to see my entire business from the bottom up,” he says. “I can take that information and determine where I need to be.”
Mesa Tractor, Inc.
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Owners: Jed and Sarah Dixon
Employees: Six full-time employees
Major lines: Kubota, LandPride, Walker, Stihl
Customer base: Ranchette owners, subcontractors, landscape contractors
Article written by Lynn Grooms
LYNN GROOMS is an agricultural journalist living in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.