Located in Granton Ontario, we are a traditional style farmstead dealer and pride ourselves on our excellent service and relationships with customers. With a rich history in the area we take our knowledge and apply it to supply the newest and most innovative solutions to help you make your farm easier to run and more profitable. Keys to Success: Work Hard, Play Hard philosophy Diversification, Diversification, Diversification Maintaining strong relationships with employees, suppliers and the competition Staying in tune and actively involved with industry issues Anticipating and addressing customer interests for the future, now.
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- Nationally (across the country)
Avonbank Ag. Solutions Inc originated in 1955 as Evans and Thompson, created by Jim and Gordon Evans and neighbour Vernon Thompson. A nephew John McIntosh and his wife Mary, took over the business in 1977. They named it Avonbank Farm Equipment. Jerry Martens joined the dealership as a service installer in 1981. Between 1981 and 1983 he added sales to his list of responsibilities. In 1983 at age 23, Jerry became the third owner of the business. At the time of the transaction, Avonbank was carrying feed, manure equipment lines and dairy equipment also providing on farm installation and service for all. Jerry moved the business from north of St Mary’s to Granton, Ontario, and began adding new lines of equipment for not only dairy producers, but also pork producers and grain farmers.
'We didn’t add any wheeled goods. We are not a traditional retailer. Our job is to assemble and install equipment for producers where they need it.'
By the late 1990s, Avonbank was addressing a growing customer interest in computerization and exploring a flurry of new agricultural technology for dairy, hog producers and grain storage. The company also got involved with contractors and subcontractors in the building trade to offer complete barn packages. Frank Hogervorst, who was handling most of the growth in hog building development, joined as a partner in 1989.
Jerry expanded the business geographically in 2003 by partnering with three brothers in Manitoba - Reginald, Darrel and Randy Penner. The business was then maintaining three locations in Ontario. Avonbank Farm Services Granton, Wellesley and Aylmer.
One of the great things about having so many locations and working with our partners in Manitoba is that we could all work together with purchases and installation staff. If we had to fly technicians around to get jobs done, we did.
2007 brought more growth and change to the business by adding partners from Tara Ontario and changing the name to Penner Farm Services-Avonbank. The larger geographic area and more business expertise that the partnership brought added more value to sales and service to our customers. With continued success and growth, comes time. Time has a way of changing many things including one's outlook and goals. Jerry slowly began to realize that there was enough potential within his Granton location to allow the opportunity of continued growth and success to be passed on to his successors closer to home. While Jerry strongly believed in the work hard, play hard philosophy, he sat down and reassessed his personal commitment and felt perhaps he needed to live by his same philosophy more. In April 2012, Jerry bought back the Granton location solely from the partnership. It is now known as Avonbank Ag. Solutions. “Providing the right solutions for the future of agriculture!” Now concentrating on the amazing opportunity within the agricultural industry and how to incorporate his dedicated family, staff, customers and suppliers for continued growth and success, Jerry is very excited about when the growing pains and change will settle so he can get back to adding the ‘play hard’ to his ‘work hard’ philosophy. Avonbank Ag Solutions would not be possible without the continued long time loyal staff, customers and suppliers. Jerry feels blessed and appreciates how much understanding and support customers and suppliers have given him and his staff throughout the beginning months of Avonbank Ag Solutions. In the end, most customers want the same thing, value for their hard earned money, also allowing more success and freedom to be given back from their investments into their business and family.
Diversity pays dividends
Being involved in diverse agricultural businesses and with diverse equipment lines has allowed Avonbank to manage downturns in various commodity cycles.
When the hog business was depressed, the slack was taken up by the dairy and grain handling businesses. The agricultural industry has experienced continuous great yields and record values thus allowing continued growth to meet the demands of the industry.
Making the most of employees
While Jerry says attracting and hiring the right employees is a challenge for farmstead dealers, he believes his business philosophy helps maintain good employees.
Not much awareness exists out there about the farmstead dealer business, and no degree at a community college really prepares you for this type of work. But we stress to prospective employees that working for us is more satisfying than most factory jobs because we never do the same thing two days in a row. It keeps the work interesting and has helped us maintain a good base of employees.
Avonbank’s management team directs the decisions made by the company and input is sought from staff about what lines to carry and service. Our management team draws from a number of years of experience that have helped us make decisions to grow our business.
Success with supplier relationships
We generally support those manufacturers that are able to help us best understand their products. Avonbank works with other farmstead dealers in the area. This is a competitive business in a strong livestock area where consolidation continues to occur in our industry and among our customers. Since most of our product is ordered as we require it for a job and many of our suppliers are in the US obtaining product in a timely manner can be a challenge. We work together with other farmstead dealers and draw from each others inventories if we are looking for a particular product. We have to maintain a good working relationship with these folks to succeed.
Not only do you have to know your suppliers, you have to know all of their product lines, parts, service and maintenance agreements to put together a complete customer package. With that comes the responsibility of closely managing logistics and freight to get all of the equipment and parts where you need them. We do only minimum work in the shop at our dealership with the balance done at our customers locations.
Facing farmstead dealer issues
Avonbank maintains a fleet of 15 service trucks that must be able to respond quickly to farms when service is needed, especially in the case of livestock, as timing can be critical to save livestock from dying or seeing significant declines in production.
We have to be self-regulated to be able to make on farm repairs, especially where milking is concerned.
Diversity vital to the future
Industry consolidation is going to continue and we need to address the legislative and regulatory issues that affect our ability to succeed. Farmstead dealers are doing more and more for fewer end users.
As the number of customers shrinks and individual customer operations grow, Avonbank Ag Solutions is making changes to focus on future opportunities.
Our marketplace is exciting but we need to respond to producers with the types of diverse equipment and services they will need down the road.