2019 - Volume #43, Issue #3, Page #39[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Tractor Business Grew From Nothing
He was a contractor in the late 70’s when high interest rates and fuel prices took their toll. When his dad suggested he start a used tractor business, Brown gave it a try. He bought a vacant lot for $5,000 down and a 90-day balloon. Then he bought 4 used tractors and put a for-sale sign on them with his phone number. “I sold the first 4 and another 3 in the first 30 days,” says Brown. “I had made $2,500 in 30 days at a time when $30,000 a year was a good income.”
With a loan from his bank, he paid for the lot and put up a building. Once the building was up, he secured a supply of implements from a wholesaler in Bristol, Tenn.
“He gave us prices that let us double our money and still sell at 1/3 the price of our competitors,” recalls Brown. “He also suggested I put my wife Brenda on a local television station to announce a sale. We had people lined up at the front door and into the parking lot.”
Before long Brown had added wholesalers and a line of new small tractors. He also started restoring and repowering tractors and pickups (Vol. 33, No. 1). The business grew from there, with his wife and younger brother as partners. He even wrote a book for tractor buyers with the knowledge he gained over the years. “Your First Tractor, Purchase, Operation and Service” (Vol. 42, No. 1) is loaded with great information.
“A guy called me about the book and said, ‘You’re a genius,’” laughs Brown. “I told him it cost me several million dollars to learn it, and you got it for $19.95. You’re the genius!”
In addition to more traditional farming equipment sales, Brown also took in trades like a “truck-hoe.” It was a 1 1/2-ton truck with a flat bed body. The rear 10 ft. of a school bus body had been turned around and mounted backward behind the cab. A 15-ft. backhoe attachment was mounted to the rear end of the bed.
“I gave the man $2,000 for the trade of a Deere 310 loader backhoe, which I figured was the value of the truck,” recalls Brown. “My brother said we would never sell the contraption, but the next day we sold it to a man who repaired underground drain pipes.”
Brown has no end of similar stories, including selling a bucket truck with a boom to a guy who used it for a deer stand. Throughout his years in the business he has followed his father’s advice when the business began, “Don’t ever sell anyone else something you wouldn’t sell me.”
Brown is quick to credit the many folks who’ve helped him along the way. That includes the bank vice president who gave him the loan and the first wholesaler to deal with him. It also includes his relationships with FARM SHOW magazine and its readers.
“I wanted the thousands of readers who’ve gotten in touch over the years to know we’ve got a new address,” says Brown in a recent email to FARM SHOW. “We just moved across the road.”
As he once put it, “FARM SHOW is people helping people. It’s like having 100,000 friends telling you the good and bad about products you are considering.”
Brown says it has been a great trip that continues today for he and his family and his brother Rudy and his family.
“It’s nearly 40 years later, and we’ve sold nearly $12 million dollars worth of equipment, thousands of tractors, loader backhoes, bulldozers, trenchers, trailers and implements,” say Brown. “We didn’t get rich, but the thousands of friendships we’ve made with people from mid-Georgia to Canada and Central America are worth more than all the gold in Ft. Knox.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gary C. Brown, 2831 U.S. Hwy 41 N., Ft. Valley, Ga. 31030 (ph 478 954-1283; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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