By Natalie Bazinet
CARIBOU — A lot has changed in 55 years in Aroostook County; while the production acreage has decreased for area farmer, technologies available to growers has expanded greatly, Crown Equipment continues to provide the same above-and-beyond customer services that farmers have been able to depend on for generations.
Crown Equipment, celebrating its 75th anniversary, has a wide selection of tractors and machinery to fit their customers’ needs.
Bernerd Dyer, Shareholder and President of Crown Equipment since 1990, started with business in 1986 when it was Grassland Equipment, owned by Nate Grass, and the business’ origin dates back to 1956 when the business was named Belanger Farm Equipment, owned by Roy Belanger.
Even though it’s been 25 years since Dyer first started selling equipment with the company, he still remembers the very first piece of equipment he sold back in 1986: a Woods rotary cutter, and he sold it to long-time customer Ronald Madore.
“I do remember it,” he said, smiling as he recalled his first sale. “His equipment has changed since then, but he remembers that first sale too.”
That memorable nature of employee-customer interaction is the norm at Crown Equipment, especially when the co-owner stays involved with the customer base, but the willingness of Crown employees to ensure a satisfying purchase and maintenance experience is just one piece of the puzzle that keeps customers coming back.
“Our employees are the best asset that our company has,” Dyer said.
Having a knowledgeable, efficient staff and a offering variety of equipment brands — like Massey Ferguson, Versatile, Sunflower, New Holland and Great Plains — helps Crown customers find a perfect-fit piece of equipment to meet their unique usage needs. Crown employees also ensuring that customers get the most out of their equipment even in the winter by fitting smaller sized tractors with snow removal options.
“Being able to sell equipment lines with good reputations makes our jobs a lot easier,” Dyer said, and he doesn’t sell a single piece of equipment that he’s not happy with. That kind of personalized touch to running a business is one of the reasons why Crown Equipment has experienced award-winning customer service and sales volume.
Another reason, of course, is their willingness to put in the extra hours during planting and harvest season that help keep farm personnel in the fields during those critical times.
“We operate based on the needs of our customers; if the equipment is needed for farming or other services, we make it a priority,” Dyer explained. “We can have some repairs done within the same day.”
During planting and harvest season, Dyer says that it’s pretty common for farmers to spend 10 to 14 hours a day in the fields. Reflecting those long days, the equipment has evolved over the last 55 years to ease the workload and make sure that the individuals operating the machinery are more comfortable and the equipment is more efficient.
“The equipment is much bigger, more sophisticated, and has higher horsepower,” Dyer said, “they come standard with all sorts of electronics from GPS to programmable automatic field functions.”
Compared to the bare-bones tractors of old, “the newer tractors today are much more comfortable than the earlier models; they’re made for those long days designed to make sure that the operators stay comfortable and get the best fuel economy possible.”
Whether it’s farmers in the fields or buyers perusing the merchandise on the lot, keeping customers comfortable has kept them coming back to Crown Equipment for 55 years — and that’s the kind of reputation co-owners Alan Irving, Ralph Irving and Victor Winslow are happy to stand behind.
Crown Equipment is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with extended hours until 7 p.m. during the planting and harvest seasons and from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays.