1991 - Volume #15, Issue #3, Page #18[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
He Turns Old Ford Tractors Into Cash
The 19-year-old from Cleburne, Texas, buys old Ford tractors from the 1940s and 1950s, then rebuilds, repaints and resells them. His business is not only paying his way through college, it also earned him the 1990 National Agricultural Mechanics Proficiency Award at the national FFA convention.
Like most entrepreneurs, Cody started small. When he was a freshman in high school, he took out a $1,200 loan from his father to buy an 8N Ford tractor. He reconditioned the small, 23-hp tractor, repainted it to its original red and gray colors, and found a buyer. He made enough money to buy another tractor, and he was in business.
Since then, both his business and his knowledge about tractors has expanded considerably. The first few years, Cody hired a mechanic to do the engine work, while he concentrated on the body work and painting. He didn't have much shop space, so Cody didmost of his work outside. "I had to hope for a real sunny day when I was painting," he says.
Gradually he added tools and equipment to his inventory, and recently constructed a steel building for a shop. Now he does all the work himself, and to date, has reconditioned and sold 75 of the Ford tractors.
Cody credits his agricultural mechanics classes at school in helping-him to learn his trade. Now that he has graduated, he re-turned the favor last year by donating a tractor to the FFA chapter. He paid chapter members to work on the tractor and then bought the tractor back once it was finished. The members earned enough money to at-tend the Texas-FFA convention.
Though a sluggish economy has left many businesses scrambling, the recession has actually helped Cody's sales. "I sell my tractors for about $1,950. A new tractor of that size would probably run $3,000 to $4,000." He gets a lot of business from a nearby vacation area, as people going to their cabins stop by to purchase a small tractor or mower. Business has been good locally, but Cody has also received tractor orders from Corpus Christi, 400 miles away.
Advertising in both newspapers and radio has helped him spread the word about his business. He uses a radio show called "Trade Fair," to tell about his business. He calls in several times a week, and has sold a half-dozen tractors over the air.
Tractors will be in Cody's future, even though he hopes to get a degree in accounting and attend law school. "I'll probably always work in tractors on the side."
Cody's success comes as no surprise to his former agricultural education instructor Jack Swilley. "Cody is a pretty self-motivated young man," Swilley says. "What-ever he does, he gives 100 percent, there isn't anything halfway about it." Swilley also says Cody has some savvy business skills. "He can, ,sell anybody anything." Reprinted with permission from FFA New Horizons Magazine.
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