Photo Above: The leadership team at Sunshine Quality Solutions includes (left to right) Greg Melancon, Small Ag and Turf Corporate Sales Manager, Rob Richter, CEO, and David Savoie, Large Ag Corporate Sales Manager.
When two Louisiana John Deere equipment dealerships – Sunshine Equipment and Quality Equipment – merged this past October, the objective was to create an even stronger Deere operation with a broader range of equipment, expanded parts inventory and enhanced customer service.
Rob Richter, chief executive officer of the combined dealership, Sunshine Quality Solutions, says the new company is making good progress toward achieving those goals. “It’s going very well, considering the challenges of combining the different business operating systems and unique company culture of each operation,” he says.
In announcing the merger, Richter said the goal was to create a one-stop solution for all agricultural and turf equipment needs. He pledged that customers could expect volume pricing on equipment, optimized parts and service availability, and a more robust inventory of new and used John Deere equipment.
In addition, Richter says the new company is working to better utilize resources, such as employees and deploying the right technician for the job. “One of our priorities has been to work with our store managers to break down barriers and build teamwork so that stores that used to compete against each other now work together to best serve our customers,” he explains. ”For example, that might mean pulling staff from different departments or different stores to help meet a customer need. Also, performance bonuses are now based in part on high-performance teamwork.”
Customer response, he notes, has been positive, and John Deere has been supportive as well. “They had wanted the two dealerships to consider this for quite some time, and are pleased with how it is going,” Richter says.
Richter is especially proud of the way employees have united to develop a blended company culture. “It’s been coming together pretty well considering how large a merger this was,” he says. “A group of our technicians recently attended a John Deere training program and it was so encouraging to see how quickly they got to know and collaborate with each other outside of work.”
Richter notes that going through a merger is a lot more complicated than an acquisition, since a merger involves creating a whole new company. He offers these tips for other dealerships that are planning to merge:
- Good legal support is key. Select legal representation that both companies will view as being fair and objective, working in the best interest of all stakeholders.
- Keep employees of both companies informed as much as possible after the merger has been announced. Explain how the merger will strengthen the combined dealership, and how employees will be affected, especially in terms of their benefits.
- Be prepared to handle the enormous HR and administrative tasks that will be required when forming a new company – everything from lining up new insurance coverage to signing new legal documents with all the company’s vendors.
With headquarters in Donaldsonville, La., Sunshine Quality Solutions and its 200 plus employees are optimistic about a bright future, built on expertise, market breadth, leading technology and strong financial resources to serve their customers.
For more information, visit Sunshine Quality Solutions at www.sqsolutions.com.