feature from the
Emerging in the age of technology
Central Illinois Ag, the second 115 years
By Roy Logan
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[November 04, 2013]
ATLANTA -- A lot of businesses
in Logan County can boast 10th, 15th, 25th anniversaries, and a few
can tout 60 or more, but 115 years? Central Illinois Ag in Atlanta
can salute this number proudly. Yes, that is 115 years doing much
the same thing they did when they opened the doors in 1898.
The business then and now is based on customer service, good
products and a sense of loyalty that only comes from families doing
business with families. And if you are wondering how many
generations of families that would be, it is five, with the sixth
generation in the wings, being grounded and growing into their turn
at the helm.
Owners are Steve Schmidt and son Michael, Dave Evans
and son Tim, with Tim being the chief financial officer, and Brian
Resser and his father, Tim, who just retired and is still very
active in the business. Even when one of the more senior partners
retires, he really doesn't spend his day on a golf course, but is in
and out on a day-to-day basis, looking to pick up a loose end here
or there or deliver a piece of equipment, even if it is a Sunday
afternoon and hours from Atlanta.
You aren't in business for 115 years without a bump in the road
here and there. One of their more recent events to overcome was a
fire that ravaged the business this spring. In a recent interview
with Michael Schmidt, it was apparent that it wasn't about the
losses they were dealt from the flames, but more about what was
going to come from it. With a proactive perspective, it was clear
that this man and his team are planning for the second 115 years of
While they lost a 22,000-square-foot building, what is coming
back from the ashes is a 57,000-square-foot building that will fit
their needs much more. With equipment being so massive nowadays in
comparison with years ago, the building obviously had to change to
meet the demands. Doors measuring 42 by 18 feet and another one
topping out at 50 by 20 feet give Michael confidence that a lot will
fit through those openings.
Technology will marry this side of the building to the equipment
it is intended to service. Central Illinois Ag will be the first
green Case dealership. Geothermal will offer the staff of 90 to 95
full-time employees the benefit of an air-conditioned shop. Also,
the showroom will have the capability to put a tractor on display,
and work bays will have the latest in electronics. It could be said
with confidence that the first generation didn't consider the need
for a USB port in a service bay. And many of these improvements come
from round-table discussions with their employees, who, it is
obvious, are indeed a part of the extended "family."
During peak seasons, planting and harvest being the busiest, the
parts department is open seven days a week. The department has its
own inventory control manager so your parts are in stock. Service
personnel are on call 24/7. And their salesmen possess the knowledge
to sell the equipment and run it, too. There is a 20-member customer
advisory board that meets on a regular basis. They keep the company
grounded in what is happening in the field so that the farmer's
equipment needs are met at the dealership.
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Technology is at the forefront of every piece of equipment. Very
little runs without its own computer.
For instance, in today's combine you will find the farmer with
his iPhone, iPad and a Case IH Pro 700. The latter item is a
computer that controls every function on the combine, every setting,
has auto guidance and a thumb drive that records yield and moisture.
Yield information collected at harvest then crosses over to
spring planting for precise fertilizer application. The areas of
higher yield will get a lesser amount of fertilizer, and lower
yielding will get a bit more.
The entire information system is based on the Global Positioning
In the end, all of this precision farming data can be transferred
to a spreadsheet as well, so the farmer can get a look at the big
You can also find Central Illinois Ag on its
While they have an employee whose focus is on the social media of
ag communications, don't ever think they don't have time for a
handshake and a conversation. While technology has taken its
appropriate role, the good old-fashioned art of face-to-face and
partners in the trenches hasn't been lost. Stop in and say hello.