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Local

Deere-ly departed: Wilco adapts to changes after losing green machines

STERLING – When John Deere decided to end its partnership with Wilco Rental after more than 3 decades, finding something to replace the company’s products was simplicity itself; in fact, it was a snap.

But that doesn’t mean the longtime lawn and garden dealer and service shop was happy to get a Dear John letter from the company that had been its flagship brand.

“After 38 years, especially for my parents, it’s an emotional thing,” second-generation manager Jason Springman said. “That’s a long period of time to sell anything and be committed to a product. You build up a large customer base in that period of time, and you hate to let them down, also.”

Moline-based John Deere, a leader in ag machinery and lawn and garden equipment, recently reorganized its sales philosophies and shifted toward putting all of its products in separate locations. That means less green at Wilco, which Deere deemed too small to work with, Springman said.

It didn’t take long to make up for the losses; Wilco, at 1825 Locust St., has picked up Simplicity and Snapper to go along with their existing line of Ariens, Echo, Gravely, Stihl and Toro products.

“We feel the product is just as good as Deere and the quality is there, perhaps in some regards even better,” Springman said. 

The future can be a little uncertain when dealing with a big loss, but Springman said the customers are adapting to the change. Some have either traded in their John Deeres for other products and have stayed committed to the business.

Wilco continues to carry John Deere parts and continues to service them. 

“We’re selling ourselves rather than just a product,” Springman said. “The customers that we’ve had for over 30 years know that the service will be there, the same guys will be here, whether it’s buying parts or getting something worked on.”

His staff’s commitment has helped remind Springman that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

“They’re committed to this business rather than just the color of the product that’s going to be in the garage.”

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