April 1, 2019
To our cherished customers,
In 1988 John Deere Company asked Stark Street Lawn & Garden Equipment to consider becoming a dealer for their consumer lawn and garden equipment. We accepted their invitation and a very productive business partnership was born. It was an era when such relationships were wholesome and honorable, a time when customer satisfaction and feedback were paramount.
Stark Street Lawn & Garden quickly achieved high sales levels and within 10 years our company received Deere’s highest honor of the “Circle of Excellence” award for sales in excess of one million dollars. Notably this was accomplished selling nothing larger than a garden tractor. Furthermore, during this time, we became the largest seller in the world of 21” John Deere walk behind mowers. Our performance prompted Deere to add larger tractors to our agreement and soon we were selling hundreds of those as well.
Unfortunately, this was also the dawn of new leadership at Deere and Company with a new CEO from the banking industry who believed in a cost cutting, numbers only approach. The new century began with hordes of early retirements of very experienced John Deere employees, leaving a much less able company behind. Then a new dealer model was adopted, and hundreds of small long-time dealers were forced to merge with others or be closed. Dealer relations were severely damaged.
Since then it has been difficult to thrive in this negative environment of lofty sales requirements, short and unreliable supply, and constant pressure to sell or merge with another dealer group. We care about our customers a lot more than that. Finally, despite 70% sales growth over the last five years, we received a letter of cancellation mid-January of 2019.
Though this type of news is hard to take on a personal level, we are excited and feel a sense of relief as we are able to put this strained relationship in the rear-view mirror and re-focus on what our business was built on, 54 years of selling and servicing the finest equipment available and adding value for our customers. I want to assure you that we will be in position to service your John Deere equipment for years to come, although we will unfortunately not be able to handle any warranty repairs. Thank you all very much for your continued support.
Tom Jenne, President