Change is not always easy, but it is always constant. For a company to succeed, to take a handle on its position in the marketplace, it must be able to adapt to the ever-fluctuating demands of the environment. It must be able to analyze, plan and move forward.
Family-owned and managed Charlotte Tractor Company, Charlotte, NC, ascribes its success to its adaptability.
“We are a progressive company,” said Tim Cockerham, sales manager and vice president, “We constantly want to be better at what we do. As times change, products change.”
Founded by Bob Cockerham Sr. in 1966 as Charlotte Tractor Sales Inc., the company has seen its fair share of changes. Starting its operations as a franchised Ford tractor dealer, the company, then named Charlotte Ford Tractor Sales Inc., purchased Dixie Tractor and Equipment Company and Winston Ford Tractor, Winston-Salem, NC, in 1986. In 1994 the company acquired the assets of Brockman Ford Tractor Sales Inc., forming Greensboro Tractor Company.
Soon after, Charlotte Ford Tractor Sales Inc., merged into the leasing company, BOBCO Inc., becoming the surviving operation. At this time, Charlotte Tractor Company, Winston Tractor Company and Greensboro Tractor Company became operating units of BOBCO, which also now operates Lake Norman Tractor Company.
Charlotte Tractor, with approximately 70 employees, is a successful New Holland, agriculture; New Holland, construction; and Kubota and ASV compact equipment dealer.
During the 1990s, Charlotte Tractor was consistently ranked as one of the top five New Holland dealers in the nation. Although the company is one of New Holland’s largest parts dealers, its ties were broken temporarily with the manufacturer in 2001, and at that time the company became the number one Kobuta dealership in the nation. Now back under New Holland’s wing, Charlotte Tractor, with plans to continue growing with the line, hopes the bond will bring success for both companies.
“We want to grow our business along with New Holland’s business,” said Cockerham.
Charlotte Tractor does offer farming equipment, but the company mainly works with landscapers and construction contractors, according to Cockerham. As a System 100 dealer, the company’s $10-million inventory is less than 100 hp and includes items ranging from lawnmowers and home-landscaping equipment to wheel loaders, motorgraders, dozers, skid steers and backhoes.
“As everyone starts looking globally, we have to concentrate on what is best for our customers,” said Cockerham, “Major manufacturers keep changing their focus and their policies, but we are the direct link to the end-users in our area. Big stuff doesn’t fit our customers’ needs.
“We don’t want to be the equipment house that handles all brands. We don’t have a loyalty to vendors, we have a loyalty to our customers,” he continued. “We want to be the experts at what we sell.”
Being the expert often means cutting back, specializing in a particular area. “We once were a tremendous vendor for the rental industry,” said Cockerham. “As rental yards began buying directly from the manufacturers and manufacturers began offering new programs, we could no longer compete.”
Cockerham noted that although Charlotte Tractor still carries rental equipment, it is not in the quantity it used to be. “We had to refocus, get back to the grass roots with our customers.”
In an effort to reach out to its customers, Charlotte Tractor has a Customer Commitment Plan, providing service, guaranteed parts availability and loaner machines primarily for skid steers, backhoes and dozers. The basis for the program comes from the idea that, according to Cockerham, “The customers’ success paves the road to our success.”
Charlotte Tractor also attributes its many achievements to its employees, who receive training on all services and products offered. “Our people are great,” said Cockerham, “We depend on them. It’s common to have employees with 25 to 30 years company experience.”
Cockerham views the upcoming years with optimism, noting that the future of Charlotte Tractor looks great. “We keep evolving as things change,” he said. “If we’re able to change with the market and still satisfy the customer, we’ve done a good job.”
Charlotte Tractor Company is located at 1700 Starita Road in Charlotte, NC.
For more information, call 704/596-8900 or visit www.charlottetractor.com.