“It was our chance to show how grateful we are. ”
Sixty-five years strong. It’s an age for many to hang up their spurs and ride off into the sunset. But MacDon is far from ordinary. After all, this is the company responsible for introducing the self-propelled windrower to North American farmers and inventing the world’s first flexible draper platform, the company that has supplied many of agriculture’s most iconic brands, and the company that has survived numerous economic downturns and market challenges, coming back more fit and stronger every time.
So how did MacDon celebrate its 65th Anniversary? Simply by hosting the largest dealer events it's ever held in both North America and Australia, showing just how much the Company remains vibrant and its products relevant in today’s agricultural market.
The larger of the two get-togethers was held in Nashville, Tennessee, November 20th–21st, 2014, while the Australian event took place six months earlier (May 7th–9th) at the RACV Healesville Country Club near Melbourne, Victoria. Both events marked the largest attendance yet for MacDon dealer events in their respective countries.
“At our 60th Anniversary event in Las Vegas we had approximately 750 people,” said Gene Fraser, MacDon’s Vice President. “This time around in Nashville we had over 1,200. That’s a significant growth in just a five-year stretch, and it indicates not just how many of our dealers wanted to attend this event, but also how large our extended family has become.”
The Nashville and Melbourne events provided dealers with an in-depth look at the current state of all things at MacDon. Included were presentations on MacDon operations, engineering and marketing, as well as product updates on windrowers, hay products and combine headers. MacDon’s current equipment line was also on display for tire kicking. And at the Nashville event, a special exhibit of historical equipment and promotional merchandise.
In addition to the educational elements, these events also provided guests with numerous opportunities to speak directly with key MacDon personnel such as Product Managers, Territory Managers and Engineers, as well as representatives from IT, Finance, Marketing, Parts, Warranty and Product Support. For many it was a chance to finally put a face to a voice they had before only heard over the phone.
“Having good conversations is at the core of everything we do here at MacDon,” said Fraser. “While we remain first and foremost a product focused company that leads through innovation, it has been the quality of the relationships we form with our dealers and customers that has been the real key to our success.”
Both events also featured Q&A sessions with representatives from MacDon’s Senior Management, giving many their first chance to meet and talk to this group since the management handover from the MacDonald brothers.
“These sessions gave our dealers a chance to see that the culture of listening and caring that Joe MacDonald and his sons fostered here at MacDon is still in place at all levels within the Company.”
Fraser says that while these gatherings gave MacDon personnel a chance to reconnect with many old friends, the Nashville event was especially noteworthy because there were so many new dealerships represented with many coming from recently established MacDon territories in the eastern United States. There was even a group of Dealers representing South America attending a MacDon event for the first time. For these new members of the MacDon family it was a chance to see MacDon’s approach to business up close.
“Some companies talk about the four P's of marketing; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. But here at MacDon we use the three P's of Product, Passion and People, and it is at gatherings like these that we get to show what we mean by that. Whether it be through focus groups, farm shows, customer appreciation dinners or dealer events, we’re always looking for opportunities to listen to our customers and learn from them. And what we learn eventually shows up in our products and service.”
Perhaps even more important than the numerous fruitful discussions these events fostered, was the opportunity for everyone to socialize and have fun, always a cornerstone of any MacDon get-together. The Australia event delivered the “MacDon experience” through elements such as a welcome barbecue, golf, winery tour and a gala dinner.
The Nashville event invited attendees to truly “paint the town red” MacDon style. The formal portion of the meetings ended with a bagpipe procession through Nashville’s downtown. Guests were later invited to explore the famous “Honky Tonk Highway” where nine local saloons greeted MacDon’s guests with neon signs displaying “MacDon Est. 1949” in their windows.
“Ultimately, we wanted to share our 65th celebration with the people we owe a large part of our success to, our Dealers. It was our chance to show how grateful we are that they are part of our family, and say thank you in person.”