Changing with the TImes
Like everything else in the modern world, it has changed with advances and innovations in science and technology. D & G Equipment, with seven locations in the mid-Michigan area, offers equipment that would astound farmers from generations past. It’s a whole new world out there where agriculture is concerned—and D & G is ready to make it happen.
Eldon (Gus) and Jolene Gustafson, co-owners of D & G, have been in the business for 18 years. They now have 115 employees among seven locations. They sell and service new and used John Deere equipment for both farmers and lawn and garden customers, with the farming market comprising the majority of their business.
Gus Gustafson was given a Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Award, named Master Entrepreneur in 2007. He says, “A lot has changed since then in terms of the technology behind our equipment. Things change fast in this field.
“In order to keep up to date, there’s a lot of education involved for our employees. We do that both in-house and by sending employees to training centers. In fact, right now, four of our employees are in Florida attending specialized training.
“John Deere runs John Deere University, and they offer online training. Then we also offer educational seminars for local farmers that are facilitated by our staff. We also have a training center in our Mason dealership.”
Jolene adds, “The equipment we sell can come loaded with all the bells and whistles. The technology is just phenomenal now. Tim Dunsmore, in ag sales, spends much of his time training individual customers on the use of all this new technology. Then we also have numerous group classes, clinics and seminars that pinpoint these new technologies and show how to utilize them for a customer’s specific needs.”
Dunsmore says, “Change is continuous in terms of technology. As new technologies emerge, we can add certain components to existing machines so they can keep up to date without continually having to buy all new equipment.”
The brochures describing the John Deere equipment are a revelation. GPS, computer monitoring of everything from fertilizer to insecticide to seeds, maximizing yield, minimizing cost, reduction of operator fatigue, push-button control—it’s amazing to contemplate how much agriculture has changed with the advent of these new and exciting technologies.
One might even say that the tractor, in some instances, knows more than the farmer does. For instance, during seeding, the planter can automatically shut off when it comes to the spot where seeds have already been planted, even if nothing is growing yet. It can do the same thing with a sprayer; if an area has already been sprayed, the equipment knows and shuts off automatically.
Of course, the farmer is still in charge and has to program all of this into his or her equipment. The computer monitor in the cab keeps the operator constantly aware of everything that is happening. “The operator feeds prescriptions into the computer,” Jolene says. “For instance, part of the field might need more nitrogen in the soil, so the computer will adjust application rates based on the prescription. The computer is only as smart as you allow it to be, so the farmer has to be well versed in the technology he or she is using.”
Dunsmore adds, “Before you even start working in the fields, you’ve fed all the information into the computer, so it knows what task you want to accomplish.”
“If farmers aren’t using this kind of technology, they can’t succeed in today’s agriculture environment,” Gus says.
Dave Reaume, corporate ag sales manager, adds, “Some of the old-time farmers can be resistant at first, but their sons and daughters and grandchildren know this is the way to go. And once somebody tries it, they buy it.”
Dunsmore explains, “The computer systems in our equipment aren’t connected to the Internet, but we have some connectivity between the computers and our dealership, like a wireless phone. The equipment comes with JD Link, a telekinetic gateway that is basically a cell modem inside the tractor that is connected to all the components of the tractor so that we as a servicing dealer can see everything that’s going on with that particular piece of machinery.”
“It’s similar to Onstar. It can tell you if your tires are low or if the equipment is ready for servicing,” Reaume adds.
While these options sound space-age, they are actually not that expensive, especially, says Gus, because, “All this increases efficiency and productivity and, in the long run, saves money.”
According to Reaume, “There will be a new technology this year called ‘machinery sync’ which will allow an operator to control another vehicle from within a primary vehicle. There will be a driver in the other vehicle, but he won’t actually be doing any driving. This will allow the farmer to hire relatively untrained workers and reduce the overall cost of the operation.
“We’re not just selling equipment; we’re selling solutions.”
“This technology allows the individual farmer to do his own research and development for his individual needs,” Dunsmore says. The farmer has access to instant data. There’s no longer a one-size-fits-all mentality.”
When Gus was interviewed in 2007, he claimed that he was going to retire when he was 88. Now that he’s four years closer to that milestone, he’s having second thoughts. He says, “I like what I do. I’m not in any hurry to retire.”
When we interview Gus in another four years, who knows how the technology will have evolved. Agriculture, like everything else in today’s world, is constantly changing. And D & G will be in the forefront of all these new and exciting developments.
D & G Equipment, Inc.
Eldon Gustafson, Co-owner
Jolene Gustafson, Co-owner
Dave Reaume, Ag Sales Manager
Tim Dunsmore, Ag Sales
2525 E. Grand River Ave.