Moultrie Observer

Local News

October 17, 2012

Sunbelt Expo means business

Dealers make sales, contacts at annual farm show

MOULTRIE — You can buy anything from a $2 soft drink to a $600,000 piece of farm equipment at this year’s Sunbelt Expo.

While many of the Expo’s visitors come to take a stroll and look for entertainment, the heart of the event is the big business that takes place. Farmers buy equipment and manufacturers and dealers show off their wares.

“Everything you need for a farm is right here,” said Larry Cox, a cattle farmer from Royston. Cox  is in Moultrie for all three days of the Expo and is on the lookout for certain equipment and has made purchases here in the past.

Barry Hooper, owner of Big Tex Trailers in Monticello, is exhibiting at the Expo for the 25th year and said he attracts new customers and sees a lot of repeat buyers. He sells direct at the Expo but also wants to recruit new dealers.

Hooper, whose father started Big Tex 35 years ago, said he sells every horse and hay trailer he brings to the Expo. In better economic times he would sell about 25 trailers. This year he brought 13 trailers, which sell for up to $8,000.

Clay Sellers from Hartsfield and his dad were looking at one of Hooper’s horse trailers. He has been to the Expo consistently for the past 15 years and estimates he will spend $15,000.

Meanwhile Case International draws a lot of attention to its $380,000 tractor combine for corn, wheat and soybeans that has all the bells and whistles. Tim Jones of Case said he is at Expo to answer questions from farmers and that the idea is to steer them to dealers at the local level.

Cattleman Wayne Wiggins of Quincy, Fla., said he is not at this year’s Expo to “tote anything home” but since his first Expo in 1992 has made purchases from dealers he met here 20 years ago when he was nominated for Southeast Farmer of the Year.

“We are a one-stop shop for the farmer,” said Expo Executive Director Chip Blalock. He says one unique feature of the Expo is the manufacturers and dealers ability to demonstrate their equipment in the field. The most expensive equipment featured this year is a $600,000 module on the cotton picker.

“We come here to see what’s new. You can see it all here and check it all out,” said farmer Doug Hodges of Hilliard, Fla.

Charles Jenkins of LS Tractor out of North Carolina said his exhibit is designed to attract new dealers and customers. They do not handle direct sales at the Expo “but if a customer comes we direct them to the dealer.”

This year LS Tractor is exhibiting tractors ranging from $12,500 to 49,000.

Kimelan Milliken, who grows corn and soybeans and raises cattle in Chickamauga said he comes to the Expo to look for new technology and has bought a lot of equipment over the years. He has purchased a grain cart for $30,000.

“Our goal is to show our products and connect the customer with a dealer,” said Robert Irby, who notes that SCAG Power Equipment of Atlanta and its distributor Power Tool Co. from Johnson City, Tenn., do other shows including one in Lexington, Ky.

Horace Pippin, a cattleman and commercial hay business owner from Forsyth has been to the Expo 10 times. He says he is here “to look and observe. I see what’s new on the market and if I’m interested I find a local dealer.”

But it is not all about business at the Expo. Farmer Bo Johnson from Polk City, Fla., was walking with his wife among the exhibits and said “We’re looking for some stuff and it’s a chance for us to get away from everything.”

 

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