Reflecting on a decade of serving farmers

Patrick Casey talks information, customer service focus

He’s had what many in agriculture would consider an unconventional path to his leadership role with one of the fastest-growing sprayer manufacturers in North America. But Patrick Casey, who’s retiring this spring after almost a decade with Equipment Technologies (ET), has found a home with the maker of Apache Sprayers based on a shared commitment to farmers that’s evident every time he walks into his Mooresville, Indiana, office.

Casey gleaned his first exposure to crop production as a 10-year-old, when he observed a neighbor in North Andover, Massachusetts, operate a tractor on his vegetable operation. When Casey took his new position with ET and circled back into agriculture years later, he rediscovered an industry in which service and relationships between the manufacturer, dealer, and customer are incredibly important.

“If you want to work with an honorable group of people focused on doing the right things, this is a fabulous place to work,” Casey said.

Building a new system for growth

But he didn’t always feel that way. “I didn’t want to come here at first. Nobody was minding the information systems, and given the growth of the company, that was a problem,” Casey said. “When I got here, the IT staff was one person. But we knew that information was a critical asset just like people, investments in sprayer improvements and R&D, and we moved forward with that philosophy in mind.”

Casey worked with ET CEO Matt Hays in a previous position. So when Hays contacted him with a request in 2010, he was happy to help out his mentor and former colleague. Hays was building a leadership team and wanted Casey’s input on building information technology (IT) systems — an area of emphasis throughout his career since completing his studies in the Indiana University MBA program in 1977. Casey made a trip to Mooresville and was persuaded to join ET as vice president of IT. In retrospect, he knows he made the right choice.

“The focus of my work has not just been to make the trains run on time from an IT standpoint, but to use the information to move the needle on sales and open up new lines of business. Doing those things requires us to be acutely attentive to our customers, and it all relates back to customer service,” Casey said. “Using information to drive sprayer sales has been my primary focus, and that process involves working with sales reps, field staff, engineers and managers to find out how we could better spread the word about the best sprayers in North America.”

Uncommon strategies to grow sales, improve service

With that philosophy of service in mind, Casey has targeted his IT efforts toward a number of strategies that previously weren’t common in the sprayer sector, but have yielded a new level of relationship for the company and its customers. Recognizing that ET and Apache Sprayers weren’t the most recognizable names in the sprayer sector, he helped develop new ways to expand the company’s visibility and market share. One of those ways was borrowed from other industries: Create a call center to help direct qualified sales leads to sales representatives, providing a new level of customer service to farmers in the market for a sprayer and turning them into customers.

“When ET started operating a call center, we did it to find growers who would benefit from having a self-propelled sprayer, then connecting those growers to our team in the field. We wanted to make sure that if a farmer invests in a new or used Apache Sprayer, that farmer has a fabulous user experience,” Casey said. “Part of that is having a well-trained sales staff, and part of it is making ourselves available to our customers. If somebody is having trouble tracking down an owner’s manual, they can call us and talk to somebody at the factory. It’s part of our value proposition to the farmer. And at the end of the day, we want to do everything we can to drive value to the farmer.”

“The main goal is to expand market share for our sprayer business. Manufacturing great sprayers and getting them to farmers who will benefit from having them – this is our main priority,” Casey said. “Are there more farmers in the U.S. and Canada who would benefit from a self-propelled sprayer? Yes. Can we grow our market share in new areas? Yes, we can. That, to me, will be the right measure of success for us.”

“Just crush it.”

But soon, that growth will happen without Casey leading ET’s IT department. Though he said he’ll likely “do a little around here” after his official retirement, he’s confident his successor will continue managing the IT component of the sales and serving the customer as he has during his tenure.

“How do I want to be remembered? As a straight shooter. Someone who wants to create value for farmers without screwing around,” Casey said. “I have always approached information as something that can help us get closer to our farmers and do a better job of serving them.”

“Patrick Casey is irreplaceable,” said Matt Hays, ET Chief Executive Officer. “His respect for everyone, his  humor and compassion have helped shape the ET culture in such a positive way. We will miss him around here.”

“Leave me in the dust,” Casey said of his advice to his successor. “Stand on my shoulders and just crush it.”

Learn more about some of the technology options with ET and Apache Sprayers. See the full 2019 lineup of Apache Sprayers.

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