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It is people who eat the food produced by the farmers. It is people who buy and sell the equipment. And it is the John Deere people who make a difference and ensure that green remains the colour of quality and good service in the world of agriculture.
Eddie Schüler – Business Development Officer of the Year
“When farmers around here buy John Deere equipment, they immediately ask me to let Eddie phone them to discuss financial arrangements. Eddie simply does things differently. He attends farmers’ days and church bazaars and is always available to visit farmers, even after hours, to deliver their contracts personally,” says Charl Viljoen, regional manager of Mascor in Natal, about Eddie Schüler, who was adjudicated John Deere’s Business Development Officer of the Year.
Eddie’s base is the John Deere Financial office in Pietermaritzburg, but he is mostly on the road somewhere between Port Shepstone, Winterton, Greytown and the Natal Midlands to visit farmers and John Deere dealers.
Eddie cut his teeth in agriculture; initially on forestry holdings and later also grain in Kwazulu-Natal. After doing compulsory military training he studied accounting and eventually settled with Bankfin in Bloemfontein. Bankfin later became ABSA. With the alliance between John Deere Financial and ABSA it was natural for him to make it his home.
“I feel at home with the farmers. I understand them and their problems. I understand agricultural conditions,” says Eddie.
He says it is his job to listen to the farmers and to structure financial packages according to their needs. With the support of John Deere farmers can expect favourable interest rates and repayments structured to meet every farmer’s circumstances and farming sector.
Eddie says: “We can arrange monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annual repayment. John Deere Financial provides structures that suit farming’s cash flow cycles.”
Eddie cherishes his award and it caps everything he has strived for during his years of hard work.
“It was an honour to be nominated and especially to win. I believe such awards motivate people to achieve their targets and to perform every day.”
His advice to farmers in a difficult agricultural year? “Agriculture depends on climate factors. When it is detrimental, there is only one way to proceed and that is to adjust to the challenges.”
Malinda de Beer – Business Analyst of the Year
At Worcester in the Western Cape Malinda de Beer walks the second mile to assist farmers with John Deere Financial’s favourable financing options. She has to analyse applications and farmers’ creditworthiness and make recommendations to the credit assayer.
She says she forms part of a team. “The team is made up of a business development officer, Nelia Grobbelaar, who has the primary relationship with our clients, the analyst (myself), who process the information and write a motivation to the credit section, and the administrative officer, Charlynne Louw, who draws up and finalises the contracts. One of the AFGRI brand managers very aptly termed my responsibility – I am the “jam in the sandwich”.
Last year the team reached 187% of their year target. “That means a lot of jam!”
Malinda says she grew up as daughter of a bank manager. “Consequently I was in six different schools, luckily always in the rural Western Cape. This experience prepared me to understand both what farming and banking demands.”
Malinda studied BTech Financial Information Systems at the Cape Technikon and was later also awarded the CAIB (Certificated Associate of the Institute of Bankers): Credit Diploma and Advanced Credit Diploma.
She joined ABSA 21 years ago and has always been involved in the development and support of business undertakings. Her present official title is Asset Financing Analyst. “My office is in Worcester but some of our clients, mainly farmers, are in outlying districts as far as Heidelberg and Bredasdorp.”
She says: “I am responsible for the most John Deere applications in the Western Cape. Last year we had high application volumes and I had to work often in my own time to serve farmers quickly and provide acceptable service.”
Malinda maintains an excellent relationship with dealers who sell John Deere products and often visits farmers personally to discuss their applications.
She has only the highest praise for John Deere Financial and the package deals they design: “John Deere provides more than a mere product. They ensure excellent product quality up to the homestead with after sales service and spare parts. The focus is on optimising the product by means of precision farming. What makes John Deere Financial unique, is that they finance precision farming technology at competitive interest rates.”
John Deere as company subsidises a portion of the interest rate, which makes it possible for John Deere Financial to offer competitive interest rates on all new John Deere equipment, which means that package deals could be concluded as low as prime minus 9%!
“I’m a major advocate for working pro-actively by making a John Deere credit line facility available to farmers. This gives the farmer peace of mind, knowing that his financing is in place for the following 12 months, enabling him to buy John Deere equipment.”
Malinda is proud of the award that she received. “I believe this will encourage me to find more ways and means to assist farmers towards progressive farming,”
Spare Parts Specialist of the Year
“You cry twice in Marquard. You cry on the first day when you arrive in the little hamlet, and you cry again on the day when you have to leave,” says Jaco Wessels, spare parts manager of AFGRI in Marquard. Jaco was adjudicated John Deere Spare Parts Specialist of the Year.
Jaco, his wife Corlia and their two teenagers, JP and Jennifer, are denizens of Marquard. “It is important to know and understand the shelves full of spare parts, but it is equally important to know and understand the people who need those parts. You really have to know what they are going to need before they know it themselves!” says Jaco jokingly.
He checks the moving and wear and tear spare parts daily to ensure that there is enough stock on the shelves. When farmers want to plant or harvest, they mean to plant and harvest – they cannot wait for spare parts!”
Jaco says the AFGRI workshop is his biggest client. That is how it should be – it means the farmers trust AFGRI and its technicians to work on their equipment. However, many farmers repair their implements themselves, or come in to buy second hand parts to solve a crisis on the farm. “It is imperative that people in the spare parts section should be one-touch workers.”
“John Deere provides me with an excellent environment,” says Jaco. “I have all the electronic support for orders and record-keeping and checking that supplies are automatically adjusted as sales are made. Should anybody need an exceptional spare part of something that never breaks, we get it by air from Germany. It is normally here within seven days; sometimes even only three!”
Jaco appreciates the opportunity created by John Deere with the competition. Similar to the technicians, an open book test was first conducted to select the top 50. They then had to do a written test to determine the Top 10. Finally there was a tough practical and theoretical examination at the John Deere Training Centre in Boksburg.
In the practical test they had to identify parts on different machines, describe and name them, or identify them from a description, hunt for the part and go through the whole ordering process.
“It was an excellent test,” says Jaco. “You really have to know all machine parts.”
Jaco did so well that he and Corlia will soon visit one of John Deere’s overseas factories. He encourages all spare parts salesmen who are employed by John Deere dealers to participate this year. “You need not win but it will mean that you can test yourself and improve your personal performance.”
- A hint to farmers: Remember to take your tractor’s serial number with you to the spares shop. The model number only is not good enough as John Deere is continuously upgrading and making improvements and changes. The same models may have differing parts.
* Visit your nearest dealer for any John Deere requirement. John Deere people have time for you and also all the knowledge required to assist you.