blog center pivot

An Ag Journey: From Farmer to Dealer to Helping Farmers Reach Their Goals

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Written by Kenneth Helms |
Valley center pivot and Diversified logo

I had the great opportunity to start a career in farming back in the early '80s. In 1986, I purchased my first Valley® center pivot, which, by the way, is still operating today.

This was a huge undertaking for a young farmer with limited capital and little knowledge about center pivots. I had to decide what brand to purchase, which dealer to trust, how in the world to fund a capital purchase, and then what to do about insurance. It was all quite overwhelming. I’m sure the dealer that sold me the pivot wished that I had never walked in to his store. I had question after question about sprinkler packages, drop spacing, warranty and how to properly service the equipment. I wanted to know what my annual cost per acre was going to be. How was this thing in my field ever going to pay for itself? (And yes it did!)  In short, I was probably his most dreaded customer at the time. Looking back, if I had owned a cell phone at the time he probably would have broken that phone over my own head.

Life takes its funny turns. In 1992, I had the privilege to purchase a Valley dealership in my hometown. I was now the dealer that had to deal with many of those farmers, who like me, had numerous questions about their new pivot and how this new improved irrigation efficiency could increase their yields. It didn’t take long until I was receiving those late night calls with questions or problems. I even found it hard to attend church without getting caught in the parking lot with questions about an insurance claim or asking if I could meet them at the dealership for parts. “It will just take a few minutes of your time” was the usual comment. All of you dealers and farmers know exactly what I’m talking about. I soon figured out that being a dealer was just as tough as being a farmer. It required a smiling face every day, even those days that were long and stress-filled.

As my dealership grew to more store locations, I quickly realized the importance of a strong relationship with the manufacturer and other key players that make this business work. Wow…there was never enough hours in the day.

I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent trying to figure out if it was tougher being a farmer or a dealer. Each of these occupations can be stressful, overwhelming and, at the end of the day, extremely rewarding. Finding the right balance of using manufacturer resources and key suppliers was the only way that I was able to maintain a reasonable amount of sanity.  I finally determined that whether I was farming or selling new Valley pivots, time management was always the biggest challenge. It came to mind that if there were eight days in the week instead of seven, I might be able to take my wife out to dinner. (She always said that she was going to ask for a pivot quote in order to spend some quality time with me.)

Life continued to take some funny turns. In late 2005, I was approached by a gentleman that wanted to purchase my dealership. Making a long story short, after a brief negotiation, I decided to sell to him. I was now unemployed and had rented out all of my farm land a few years earlier.  

Within days, I had the great privilege of taking a job as regional sales manager with Diversified Financial. I’m still there today and have truly enjoyed my role. I get to spend time with dealers and farmers every work day of the week. I can honestly say that by being a farmer, a Valley dealer, and working in the finance and insurance business, I appreciate and respect the struggles that we all deal with. The same can be said for everyone at Diversified Financial.

As many of you know, Valley Irrigation and Diversified have a long standing relationship. Both are great companies and they work very well together. Here at Diversified, we understand the struggles and time constraints that dealers and farmers deal with. We understand that even with today’s technology, gathering pertinent information takes up valuable time. That is the reason that we have taken a little different and more personal approach to offering finance and insurance to our customers. Be sure to ask how we can make your day a little less stressful and put a few more hours in your day.

I want to say thanks to Valley Irrigation for asking me to write this guest blog. I am definitely not a writer or blogger, but have enjoyed sharing my own story with you. I grew up on a farm in west Texas and now call on dealers across several states in the mid-south. Don’t ever hesitate to contact me. I love to visit with dealers and farmers. 

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