Support in a tech world
It’s still about customer satisfaction at Riesterer & Schnell
By Mark Sherry
Physically, Riesterer & Schnell’s Chilton location has grown and changed from what it looked like originally (right) to what it is today (above). Similarly, the equipment sold by the business has changed dramatically, especially in just the last five years. Technology is making a huge impact on agriculture these days, and the employees of Riesterer & Schnell are working hard to support their customers through these changing times—while still remembering the customer satisfaction lessons learned over the years.

Riesterer & Schnell has been selling equipment to farmers and others since 1931.

That equipment has obviously changed given the impact of technology, especially in just the last few years.

And the way Riesterer & Schnell serves its customers has changed as well in some ways—and yet in other ways it is the same reliance on trust, a handshake and a smile as it was when Frank and John Riesterer and their fishing companion Henry Schnell started the business.

These days, Riesterer & Schnell serves the role of being a partner and an advisor to its customers. It is helping farmers understand and implement the latest in technology so that they can be as efficient and profitable as possible while still being good stewards of the land and the environment.

“Technology is out there,” Waldo Riesterer said. “There is a lot of technology that is being sold. We are focusing on how we can assist our customers to make sure the investment they make in technology has positive impacts for their operations.”

More workshops and seminars

Riesterer & Schnell has offered an increased number of workshops, seminars and other events in recent years. “We’ve had really good attendance,” Riesterer said. “We’re doing seminars that are not just machinery focused. We’re trying to help farmers become more educated about being more efficient, being better stewards of the land.”

And there is also still plenty of one-on-one education going on between Riesterer & Schnell employees and their customers. Riesterer said no matter how advanced technology gets it is important that Riesterer & Schnell not forget the lessons of the past 80-plus years which got it to this point.

Riesterer said, “I’ve had one customer that we do business with tell me I was the third generation he purchased from. He commented that that just does not happen much anymore. We are now working with the next generation of his operation. What we’re really looking to do is become a trusted advisor to pull all these things together. They invest a lot of money in this machinery and we need to ensure they made the right choice.

To make sure that investment pays off, Riesterer & Schnell makes sure transactions are not just about selling iron. Customers are educated on how all the features of their newly acquired equipment work, how to best put those features to use on their land, and what practices will maximize their operations— including in areas such as nutrient management plans, quality of feeds, and the increasingly important issue of conservation of water.

Integrated Solutions Group formed

Riesterer & Schnell has created an Integrated Solutions Group (ISG) to support its customers more than ever. Directed by Manitowoc native Todd Vogel and assisted by two ISG consultants, the group is working to find ways to wrap up technology with all these other factors for the benefit of their customers. They are currently looking for team members to join this growing area of the business.

Vogel said the applications of technology in agriculture have grown tremendously in the last three to five years. Tractors these days can be equipped with 10-inch color touch screens. Inputs can be entered into on-board computers which fully automate processes such as planting and fertilizing. With larger farms being the norm these days and owners making use of employees, the tractor computer systems can monitor such things as fuel consumption and how many acres per hour are being worked so that owners and managers can manage their operations for maximum efficiency which, in turn, maximizes profits.

Vogel said between 80 and 90 percent of new agricultural equipment sold these days has this type of technology installed.

As much as technology has already impacted agriculture in recent years, farmers haven’t seen anything yet compared to what is coming, Vogel indicated.

More and more technology driven

“We’ll be completely technology driven,” he said. Farmers will be able to mount their iPads into their tractor cabs, have their field information wirelessly transferred and virtually have the tractor operate itself out in the field. Crop consultants will be able to “write a prescription” in their offices, Vogel said, and e-mail them right to the cab of a tractor to create maximum yields based on all the factors with which farmers need to be concerned.

Farming has even gone mobile as operators can pull up yield maps, soil maps, etc. on their iPhones.

While all that technology is evolving, Riesterer said he wants to continue to maintain those one-on-one relationships with customers. Events such as the upcoming Partners in Progress on Wednesday, March 12 help that happen. Held in Hangar C of the EAA grounds in Oshkosh, Partners in Progress will allow customers to see all the latest and greatest in equipment and technology for one day, under one roof. They can call (920) 757-6101 for more information.

Vogel said farmers of all ages have been accepting of new technology because they know it can help increase yields and profits. “The ag industry is changing so rapidly you spend a lot of time training,” he added. “We’re living in a technology driven world.”

Great manufacturers

It helps Riesterer & Schnell’s customers— not just farmers but urban and rural homeowners as well—that the business aligns itself with some of the best equipment manufacturers in the world. John Deere, Ariens, Stihl and Honda Power Equipment are just some of the manufacturers of equipment from which customers can buy at Riesterer & Schnell—from chainsaws to weed trimmers to snowblowers and more. Parts, service, and used equipment also are all pieces of the innovative solutions Riesterer & Schnell works to provide for its customers of all sizes.

As for Riesterer & Schnell’s merger of technology with all the factors their customers care about it, Riesterer said, “I think we’re ahead of the game, and that’s allowed us to succeed in this market.

The growth of Riesterer & Schnell— especially in the past decade—could be a sign of how well the company is supporting its customers

Riesterer said, “It’s not what size we are, it’s how good of a job we do and that needs to remain our primary focus. We can never forget that Riesterer & Schnell exists only though the work of our dedicated employees and by satisfying our customers.”