Employees credited for Texarkana Tractor’s growth
by Lynn Grooms
Growing and sustaining a successful dealership requires many elements. The most critical element is employee growth, say the leaders of Texarkana Tractor, a 10-store dealership with locations in Texas and Arkansas.
“The growth of individuals in our dealership must come first,” said Brad Carlow, chief financial officer for Texarkana Tractor. “The growth of the company will then follow.”
He added, “A developed, empowered, knowledgeable, and caring employee can affect every aspect of your dealership’s success.”
Dividends of training
Texarkana Tractor helps its employees to grow through regular training – from programs provided by manufacturers to monthly videoconferences with department managers to seminars facilitated by the Western Equipment Dealer Association’s Dealer Institute.
About half of the dealership’s employees have participated in WEDA webinars, and about a third of the employees have attended in-person classes, Carlow said. Those classes have included “Iron Management,” which emphasizes used-inventory management as well as “Aftermarket Sales,” a program focused on parts and service sales. Texarkana staff members also have participated in organization-leadership programs.
“WEDA offers great programs to help individuals – from personal growth to industry standards to policies and procedures,” Carlow said. “In-person classes also provide opportunities to talk to other dealers who face similar obstacles.”
Blake Carlow, Texarkana Tractor’s general manager, stresses the dealership’s employee training program.
“We try to use any training we feel will be beneficial to the growth of our individuals and our organization,” he said. “Knowledge is power and the more information, training and knowledge we can offer our staff, the more the company will benefit.”
He adds that well-developed employees provide:
- happy customers
- gross income
- a positive work environment that motivates others
- a reputation for taking care of customers at every level and every department
“Employees must be developed, empowered, knowledgeable and caring at every level – from the CFO making money decisions to the delivery driver interacting with customers,” Blake Carlow said.
But empowering employees requires honing one’s management skills. As the company has acquired other dealerships, Texarkana Tractor’s management has faced the challenge of getting staff “buy in” from those dealerships concerning its business culture and practices.
“One challenge was trying to make sure that all the stores operated with our company’s vision, but still allowed individuals in those locations to be unique in their own ways,” said David Meadows, the company’s senior vice-president.
There have been advantages of retaining the names of the locations that Texarkana Tractor has acquired. Each store has its own identity, he said. Texarkana Tractor has an open door, open line of communication between every level of staff, he added.
“We listen to input from everyone and do our best to set up every employee for opportunities to excel inside their position and beyond,” Meadows said.
It’s important to clearly communicate goals and expectations. It’s also important to have the right people in the right positions while also understanding different obstacles each position faces, he said.
Benefits of multi-locations
Texarkana Tractor sells and services agricultural and construction equipment. It also sells and services consumer whole goods. Its main lines are Kubota and New Holland. The company has expanded to 10 stores as opportunities have arisen. Brad Carlow listed some benefits of being a multi-store dealership:
- greater amounts of knowledge and information easily accessed within its network,
- increased ability to move products, such as older inventory,
- increased buying power and a louder voice with manufacturers, and
- more diversified coverage of different markets.
“Different products and lines that are productive at different times of the year help us during slow times,” Brad Carlow said. “That also allows us to see what works where and under what circumstances.”
But equipment alone doesn’t make for return customers. It goes back to the people who serve those customers.
“People in general don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Blake Carlow said. “We want our employees to work within guidelines, but their rapport and connection with the customers is the main key to success with first-time as well as repeat customers.”
Profile – Texarkana Tractor
Established: 1992 in Texarkana, Texas
Locations: 10, with 5 locations each in Texas and Arkansas
- Texarkana Tractor (Kubota), Texarkana
- Texarkana New Holland (New Holland/Mahindra), Texarkana
- Cass County Equipment (Kubota), Queen City
- Bowie County Equipment (New Holland), DeKalb
- Nor-Tex Tractor (New Holland, Mahindra), Sulphur Springs
- Hope Tractor (Kubota), Hope
- River Valley Tractor (Kubota), Bryant
- River Valley Tractor (Kubota, New Holland), Sherwood
- Duncan Outdoors (Kubota), Conway
- Russellville Kubota (Kubota), Russellville
Owners: James Carlow, president; Brad Carlow, CFO; David Meadows, senior vice president; Blake Carlow, general manager
Major lines: Kubota, New Holland
Other lines: Bush Hog, Hustler, Krone, Kuhn, Kuhn Knight, Land Pride, Mahindra, Stihl
Article written by Lynn Grooms
LYNN GROOMS is an agricultural journalist living in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.