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Customers the winners in rapid evolution of ag machinery

06 Feb 2020

Australian farmers are among the hungriest in the world for new technology and product advancements that are dramatically shaping the future of the agriculture industry, according to Case IH product manager Andrew Kissel, and it's the responsibility of machinery companies to not only keep abreast of those requirements, but to stay ahead of customer expectations.  

Andrew, who is Product Manager for Planting and Soil Management Equipment for Case IH Australia/New Zealand and Product Specialist for Patriot Sprayers, embraces this challenge and is excited about what 2020 offers for his product lines, and for customers.

"When you look at the cost of machinery today, there's a significant proportion of that value tied up in technology advancements, so it's important customers realise the value in having that built into the machine," he said.

"One of my priorities is making people more aware of how they can utilise what they already have to generate better returns, be more efficient or enhance other areas of their business where they're looking for better results. When we can show customers how they can get the maximum return on their investment then we start being a true partner in the business and not just a supplier of equipment."

US born and bred, Andrew moved to Australia at the start of 2017 to take up the initial position of tractor and sprayer product specialist for Case IH. With a home base in Sydney and plenty of opportunities to see so many other parts of the country through his job, he hasn't looked back and is excited by what the future of Australian agriculture holds.

Growing up in Powell in Delaware County, Ohio, Andrew knew early on that agriculture was where he wanted to establish a future career, embarking on an ag engineering degree at Ohio State University when he left high school. After graduation in 2011, he accepted a position at Iowa State University where he lectured on precision farming and managed a group of undergraduates at the university's research farm where a large component was machinery development involving a number of agriculture machinery manufacturers.

An opportunity came up with CNH Industrial, the parent company of Case IH, in 2013 which Andrew accepted, joining the commercial sales training group for North America, before taking on the company's crop production line including precision planters, seeding equipment, and tillage gear, and then moving into sprayers.

It was during this time he met now Case IH Australia/New Zealand General Manager Pete McCann and started to think about a new opportunity within the company - but half a world away.

"I met Pete in the US and we started talking about sprayers and I ended up saying, 'If you've ever got an opportunity for me, let me know' … and here we are," Andrew said.

"When you look at the cost of machinery today, there's a significant proportion of that value tied up in technology advancements, so it's important customers realise the value in having that built into the machine" - Andrew Kissel, Product Manager Case IH 

He made his first visit to Australia in 2016 to assist with training sessions during Case IH’s Red Excellence regional machinery tour, before moving Down Under six months later. 

Since then he’s overseen the company’s renewed focus on its soil management equipment in Australia, with the launch of the Early Riser 2130 Stack-Fold Planter into the Australian market just over 12 months ago. Its main point of difference the fact it’s the only planter engineered and built with precision planting components direct from the factory, meaning no additional financial outlay once a customer takes delivery.  

Andrew said the feedback on the 2130 had been very positive, customers appreciating the fact the planter came equipped with everything they needed and that it presented some further variety in a market dominated by just a handful of players. Andrew and his team have also been working hard to ensure new Early Riser owners are up to speed with all their planter has to offer, and have been liaising closely with the Case IH dealer network to provide the knowledge and experience they require to assist with customer inquiries. 

“We completed some training recently in central NSW with local dealers where they spent the day learning about all aspects of the Early Riser and getting the chance to operate one in the field. We need to make sure our dealer sales staff are equipped to address questions from customers or know where to go for the information they need,” Andrew said.  

Case IH continues to put the planter through agronomic trials incorporating a range of different conditions and different crops including corn, cotton and sorghum in the past 12 months, and will soon start canola trials.   

“We’re just trying to get exposure to as many production systems as we can in order to determine how it’s best used in this market, so we can say, ‘well in the US it works like this, but in Australia we have to do this and this’ to get it performing the way we want. We want to make sure that when we make a claim we’ve got the data to back it up, and that every customer can achieve that same level of performance,” Andrew said. 

In response to requests from the Australian Case IH team, a new feature will be unveiled later this year for Australian-market Early Riser and this same kind of feedback is also responsible for two new options becoming available on MY20 Patriot sprayers.  

“Those are big additions that are really directly focused at the Australian market. We conducted a focus group about 12 months ago with all our dealers who sell Patriot sprayers and asked them what their customers were looking for – and not just now, but three, five, 10 years down the road. One of the things that came out of that was the need for a larger boom size, so the plant was able to work with the supplier and get us a larger boom and we now have that as an option,” Andrew said.  

Being able to act on customer and dealer feedback, and relay their own product forecasts and suggestions back to Case IH, is one of the best things about his job, Andrew says, along with the opportunity to work alongside people who share his passion for agriculture.  

“I feel very fortunate to work in an industry of people who are selfless and who are tied to the land – who I think are probably the best group of people you could ever assemble. So being able to work with a global organisation like Case IH and get solutions that make those people’s jobs easier is tremendously satisfying to me,” he said.

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