The corporate structure of Maple Farm Equipment saw a major change announced last week.
Jim Pattison Group (JPG) is now a partner in Maple Farm Equipment. The new partnership allows the local dealership network to continue offering service to its customer base.
“We’re just business partners here with Kevin (Hitchings),” offered Jim Pattison when he met with local media at the John Deere dealership Friday.
David Cobb, Managing Director, Corporate Development with the Pattison group explained the company was looking to invest in an agricultural implement dealership.
“We started looking at the market,” he said, adding as part of that process they met with John Deere officials, who ultimately “connected us to Maple Farm Equipment.”
So why enter the farm equipment market?
“Because of what we believe, that the population of the world will continue to grow,” said Pattison. He added as population grows the need for food will add importance to the farm sector which is served by implement dealers.
As for going with John Deere, Pattison said that was a decision based on what they saw in the market. He said when they looked at the industry we felt John Deere was a leader, and a good fit for the Pattison group.
There will be some changes with the new partnership. Long time owners Larry Hilworth, and Gordon and Brenda Pries will be retiring from Maple Farm Equipment.
The management team will be Kevin Hitchings (General Manager), Ralph Ager (Product Support Manager), Jim Kelley (General Sales Manager) and Dale Reynolds (Used Equipment Manager). The central location for our business will remain in Yorkton and retain the Maple Farm Equipment name.
The company’s 230 full time staff across all its dealership locations will be maintained.
Pattison said he sees having local management as a key moving forward.
“We think it’s very important. The best people are the people who know the market they are in,” he said, adding maintaining that local connection “is the logical thing to do.”
Pattison said they do not see their role as managing the local dealership, but rather they are a new partner with access to new cash.
“We hope that we can bring capital if they need it, or want it,” he said, adding “we think there may be some opportunities to grow” moving forward.
Pattison added they entered the partnership with a view to the long term. He said they are not a company which takes on a new business only to flip it in a few months.
“We do everything long, long term,” he said, adding he hopes their contribution is “… some stability long term.”
Hitchings said a new building is one thing already under consideration, and with a price tag in the $15 million range, the new partner could be a key to it going forward.
So when might an investment in a new building be made.
“I don’t think we can answer that today,” offered Pattison, adding they had been officially partners less than a day.
Both Pattison and Hitchings suggested a new building for the Yorkton dealership would be among early discussions between the new partners.