NESTLED BETWEEN the Columbia River and the Cascade Mountains, The Dalles, Ore., is an agricultural hotspot in the Pacific Northwest.
Know those sweet, delicious cherries you snag each summer at the farmers market, those plump Royal Annes? They very well could have been harvested in the more than 6,000 acres of trees that grow in the area. Vast acres of wheat — about 50,000, all told — are also cultivated throughout The Dalles region.
And there are peaches, pears, even cattle. “Ag” is big in The Dalles. If you’re going to run a powersports dealership in an area like this, you’d be wise to know well your customer base.
Fun Country Powersports owners Mike and Lisa Erland take this lesson to heart. Mike studies farming methods. He goes to related meetings and learns about such things as chemical application and the logistics of maintaining orchards. Lisa runs the service department at the Top 100 dealership, making sure the side-by-sides and ATVs used by local farmers are in their best condition.
“If the farmers don’t do well, we don’t do well,” Mike points out. “We have to be very sensitive to the agricultural market. I’ve learned a lot about what they do, so when we do something like set up a Ranger to be a full-spray rig, I know why they need valving in different spots. I really enjoy knowing this. The fringe benefit is they trust us completely to take care of them.”
Indeed, he tells his staff: “Everybody in this company is a farmer; we just don’t grow anything.”
Paying close attention to his customer base also bolsters purchasing decisions when stocking PG&A. Mike works closely with distributors to make sure he has all the latest accessories for side-by-sides — and by accessories, we mean cab enclosures, winches, spraying equipment, 12-volts.
The dealership has to handle just about anything during the busy farming season. If a local comes in with a broken-down vehicle, the Erlands will offer whatever is needed — whether it’s a loaner side-by-side to hold a spray rig or an ATV — to get the job done. (Continued)