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Anonymous Distributor

I saw an article (didn’t read it) titled “Sick Days Are A Thing Of The Past.” I can hear you now, “A.D., what is a sick day? I haven’t had a sick day since I started my business 15 years ago!” Right?! For years, there were no laptops, Internet carriers, cell phones, faxes, and TVs (just kidding) and many just came to work sick. After all, you had nobody else to do your work. Your customers depended on you, and since there is no crying in baseball, there are no sick days for lawn and garden owners and workers.

So I asked myself, “A.D. what has happened to the working world?” Here is a great example I can’t imagine you would ever understand.  My son works for ______ in ____________, and they encourage employees to use their sick time. Hopefully it’s because they don’t want it to spread and leave them with no workers. It is also the new generation of thinking. Defining “sick” would be a real problem for me (Starting to show you my age, aren’t I?).

But what about the “fortunate” ones that can keep working from home when they are sick? How can you measure productivity of those working from home while sick? STOP ALREADY! If you are sick, get better! You do no one any good when you are sick. And even without checking, I’ll bet the person “working” sick at home is not working at all. They are sleeping.

Speaking of “sick,” I saw that Textron Specialty Vehicles – parent company of Dixie Chopper, Jacobsen, Artic Cat, Textron Off-Road, and E-Z-Go – plans to lay off 10 percent of its workforce, and will close several factory-direct turf care branch locations and a manufacturing facility. They also announced they have ceased production of Dixie Chopper zero-turn mowers, Jacobsen zero-turn mower, and its Jacobsen Truckster L/M series of utility vehicles. When I read this, it made me sick to my stomach. Especially when talking about Dixie Chopper. They are an American Made company in Coatesville, Ind., that had some firsts to brag about throughout their almost 39-year history. They were first to create a zero-turn radius commercial mower in 1980. How about in 1993 when they created a jet-powered lawnmower propelled by a helicopter engine? It was used in an edition of “Home Improvement” with Tim Allen. In 2000, Dixie Chopper created the first liquid-cooled zero-turn mower. The world’s fastest mowing machine came in 2003, and it actually mowed at 15 mph. In 2005, “American Chopper” made the Dixie Bike with a 1,000cc Generac lawnmower Engine. And in 2014 they sold to Jacobsen. 34 years owned by Art Evans, 5 by Jacobsen/Textron, and now gone.

Let me be clear. I am not picking on Jacobson/Textron at all. Unfortunately, they are the latest to close down strong brands, and it just hit me about the time I was to write my column (By the way, this is not a blog).

Many of you reading this might be affected by this closure, a different one from the past, or even one yet to come. Why don’t the manufacturers ever talk about the trickle down effect with their decisions? Let’s take a moment to spell it out for them. Usually, a closure of a factory has very little to do with the employees in the plant. It might be that the company has lost market share beyond recovery. It may be that wages of an old manufacturer couldn’t keep up with current sales. Regulations from our government can also put strains on a factory. And, sometimes, a specific manufacturer is just in the wrong place at the right time. And I almost hate to say this, but in rare cases, a company is bought to drain the assets then be disposed of.

Distributors and dealers are affected by a shutdown. There is inventory of equipment and parts, investments in staff, etc. Mr. and Mrs. Dealer, your livelihood might depend on larger-dollar items with a decent profit. Selling profitable parts is one thing, but most of you depend on selling equipment to help generate service work and parts sales. And, finally, your customers. They look to you for their service needs and parts.

Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be the last manufacturer that will close. Maybe another company will buy the tooling to keep Dixie Chopper alive. Textron has said it will continue to provide sales support and service to all the affected lines.

Companies can go out of business. Why should this situation be different than Dixon, Yazoo, Jari Sickle Mowers, or even Hoffco Power Equipment? Here’s why. It is today’s news – it’s fresh on our minds. Next month, next year, another prized company will go away, and we will forget the others that went before it.

My thoughts go out to all affected. Remember to keep your blades and mind sharp. You can contact me by e-mailing to OPEMAGAD@gmail.com or you can tweet me @OPEMAGAD, but I have no clue what to do when it arrives!

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