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Keep the tires turning and your wheels from spinning

John Krantz Published on 06 May 2014

maintenace on a tractor

It’s one of those things that producers sometimes take for granted. After completing daily maintenance and equipment checks before heading to the field, producers just expect tires will keep on turning – all day, the next day and for many days and years to come.

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And because tire failures happen so seldom, when it does occur, especially in the field and away from the shop, the importance of having a tire dealer you can rely on to help keep the wheels turning is essential.

Service, supplies, support – 24/7
According to Kelly Monthei, general manager with Graham Tire in Worthington, Minnesota, there are several things producers should look for when partnering with a tire dealer.

“It’s all about service,” Monthei says. “When the guys go to the field to plant, harvest, or whatever the task, they pretty much run around the clock, weather permitting.

A dealer must be able to provide 24-hour service because these guys can’t afford downtime. Having the right tires on hand, or the ability to access a specific tire in a hurry, is very important.”

Monthei admits that with the many different types of equipment – tractors, combines, sprayers, planters, grain carts, even semis – that require so many different sizes and types of tires, it simply isn’t feasible for most individual dealers to inventory all tire options.

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Yet there is a way to address the challenge of having to prioritize which tires they keep in stock and address the occasional void.

“We’ve built relationships with many other dealers and are all there to help each other out,” Monthei says. “If we don’t have a specific tire that we need in stock, I can usually find it at another dealer nearby quickly.

We also attempt to survey all of our customers about their equipment and maintain up-to-date records including wheel and tire sizes and other specifications. This helps us be more efficient in managing our inventory and stock the tires most likely to be needed.”

Monthei says some producers may be reluctant to allow a tire dealer to acquire so much information about their equipment, yet having this information in their records helps expedite service more efficiently in the event of an incident.

The survey is very thorough, including an inspection and evaluation of the general condition of each tire on every piece of equipment and vehicle in the operation.

“We measure tread depths and complete inspections of each tire,” Monthei says. “This information allows us to anticipate a repair call before it happens and saves time once the call comes in. If they call in and say their John Deere tractor has a rear tire going down on it, we know what size the tire is and what may be required to fix it.”

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tractor being serviced

Tire dealers have also expanded their menu of service offerings to extend beyond traditional tire repair and replacement. Graham Tire, for example, has a full complement of service mechanics on staff, and not just for farm machinery but for the entire supporting cast of equipment for farm operations.

“We don’t just fix their tires; we fix their cars, pickups and trucks,” Monthei says. “Farming equipment is so diverse today, so we do a lot more than just repair and replace tires.”

According to Scott Sloan, agricultural product manager for Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires in Des Moines, Iowa, an increasing number of producers and operators are turning to their tire dealer for a variety of services outside of just selling new tires.

“The reliability and expertise of the dealer is more important today than ever before,” Sloan says. “If a producer damages a tire or needs to replace one, they want to know their dealer specializes in that part of the business, and that they can call on them to get immediate service. A dealer that specializes in ag tires is totally different than a dealer that just happens to sell tires for ag equipment.”

Sloan also says producers are often concerned about costs for in-field and on-road repairs. Yet he reminds them to keep in mind two important things: The dealer has a significant investment in equipment they purchased specifically to get them up and running more quickly, and the costs of downtime generally outweigh those of hiring a tire expert.

“With so many variables out of a producer’s control, downtime resulting from tire damage and repair can be minimized by partnering with a responsive, reliable tire dealer,” Sloan says.

The right equipment
Just as the machinery used by their customers has grown and become more sophisticated over the years, so too has the service offerings, capabilities and repair equipment of tire dealers. Companies have invested substantial resources in equipment that helps get customers back up and running quickly.

“We carry everything for tractors, trucks, combines, grain carts – you name it,” Monthei says. “It’s a big expense for a dealer, but if their customers experience a breakdown, they need us to be there. They can’t wait a day for service or a week for a tire. They’ve got to have it today.”

Over the years, progressive tire dealers have added several pieces of equipment to their service and repair fleets that make the task of repairing or replacing tires and wheels more efficient, including fully equipped service vehicles, hydraulic lifts and jacks, boom trucks and highly efficient portable air compressors.

Goodyear tractor tire being inflated

Get acquainted
Monthei feels an important component of providing excellent service is making personal introductions and getting acquainted with his customer base. To that end, professional tire dealers may hold customer meetings and open houses with the goal of getting their customers acquainted with their service personnel, along with showcasing the capabilities of the company’s service equipment.

“We do cookouts and plan other types of social gatherings,” Monthei says. “They have the chance to meet and interact with our service guys so they get to know each other better. Our service guys are the ones out in the fields or on the road and have direct interaction with our customers. This is a good way to build confidence between them.”

Pre-season review
Many tire dealers offer consultation services that include an inspection checklist, along with a list of maintenance tasks they encourage producers to complete before the busy spring planting and fall harvest seasons.

The service helps minimize surprises and breakdowns in the midst of the busiest farming times, when operators simply can’t afford to experience downtime.

“Everybody is busy at the same time during those peak work periods,” Monthei says. “We offer to come out and inspect their equipment together. We can identify potential problems in advance and then make recommendations for pre-plant or pre-harvest maintenance that should be completed before the chaos begins.”

Producers can’t afford downtime. Partnering with a dealer that can offer site visits, complete equipment and tire assessments and record-keeping, 24/7 service availability, stock the appropriate tire inventory and have the most up-to-date service and repair equipment is beneficial for helping to maintain productivity all season long. PD

John Krantz is with Two Rivers Marketing. Contact him by email .

Photos courtesy of John Krantz.

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