In 1944, a general mercantile store in Atkins, Arkansas owned by the Maus family expanded its product line-up from items like coffee, flour and shoes, to selling John Deere equipment. Shortly thereafter, the John Deere side of business began to grow and the Maus family opened up the Maus Implement dealership in Morrilton, Arkansas.
Now, the dealership has three locations in Arkansas. CEO John Maus says they have a mix of large and small ag equipment. Over the years, the industry in the area has changed and so has customer demand. For many years, cotton and other row crops were popular, but in the 1980s, Maus says a down cycle in ag and droughts across the region meant area farmers became more focused on cattle and poultry operations, and the dealership had to transform as well. With recent market changes, the company has adapted again to meet customer demands and diversify its product offering.
“It is really interesting because the small tractor, subcompact tractor and consumer end of the business have really exploded,” says Maus. “It wasn’t the focus of our business several years ago, but we change with the markets, and we are fortunate to have those markets in the area.”
Similar to their grandfather and great-grandfather’s humble beginnings at the general mercantile store, Maus and his brother, Jeff, grew up in the business while their father ran the dealership and have done it all. From sweeping floors, to the parts department and management, the Maus family has a long history in the business and has built on the strong, long-term relationships with customers and employees that their father worked hard to grow.
“For us, it’s not all about the sale,” explains Maus. “It’s about service and taking care of the customer. You can’t make everyone happy. But, I tell my employees to do what is right and fair to the supplier, customer, employees and company.”
For Maus, there is no better feeling than hearing positive feedback about employees from customers. The key is treating employees like family, he says.
“This place does not run with just me or my brother here,” he says. “It runs because of our employees. There’s no better comment from a customer than when they say how good our employees are.”
Patience and the ability to empathize with customers are two parts of building long-term relationships with customers, says Maus. And those long term relationships are what really pay off for equipment dealerships.
“When someone walks in the door, put yourself in their situation,” he recommends. “They may have just broken something, or something isn’t working and so they might be frustrated. It is important to put yourself in their shoes. Customers will appreciate it and it will be good for your business.”
At the end of the day, for Maus, working with his customers is the most rewarding part of the business.
“It is extremely rewarding to work with people who grow things, work with their hands and feed us. To be able to help our farmer customers do that safely and profitably is huge. The relationships and friendships with our customers and their families is the reason we come to work every day. This is the best job in America.”