The Essence of Acquisition….#165 (80’s)

7720 John Deere Combine

7720 John Deere Combine

Gary’s participation in the harvest season decamped with the wheat bedded in the silo’s another resolution completed,  the full complement of the John Deere service personnel once again able to perform autogenous, no longer a paid subscriber to the beckoning of the Custom Harvesters.   The staff having been enlarged with the inauguration of the new assembly shop,  the service department continuing with Larry Foster as manager,  Jim Pulliam,   Denny Callison,   Keith Hoffman, all  mainstay diesel practitioners and an addition of Bill Duval and Ron Zahnter.   The fall season having arrived upon the kindred land, the stubble of consequence remaining but finding its earthen substance orbited  by  eight,  twelve and sixteen bottom plows.  The tilling of the soil a  prerequisite before  commencing  the winter wheat drilling process, the insertion of the seed with the tractor-pulled  seed drilling implement.   Gary always amazed at the  wheat adorned landscape during the winter months,  the frontal winds venturing down from the north,  displaying  a biting chill,  casting a cold infraction. Within the domain of the city limits the lawns of bermuda grass laid brown and dormant  but the bounding fields of winter wheat were nor,  giving notice to all,  the seedlings arising painting the winter landscape with a blanket of green, a prerequisite sign spring would prevail again.

John Deere 8300 drill

John Deere 8300 drill

The greenery of Winter Wheat

The greenery of Winter Wheat

Gary turning the key to the entrance of  the Service Company  at  7:00 a.m., opening the store five days a week and on alternate Saturday mornings.  On arrival,  a normal day  would find  farmers seated in pickups waiting but this morning was different,  Steve Miller and brother John, who normally didn’t come in until later were already there.  Steve taking Gary aside promulgating that a sign be placed on the door that they would be closed between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. this morning.  Gary’s curiosity being aroused ventured a questioning expression, Steve prescribing that they were having a company meeting.   At 8:10, everyone assembled in the service bay area,  the group standing in silence,  Steve Miller beginning his dissertation addressing the gathering about customer service, their responsibility as representatives of the company when dealing with the public.  Moving on he addressed the shop personnel about adhering to the prescribed flat rate time especially when servicing the sales departments combines, tractors and implements.  Continuing he said he was well aware of the extended break time that many took, he realized that the mechanics couldn’t just stop in the middle of a project to take a break but reminded them there were only two  break periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and that he wasn’t above having them clock out for their breaks.  In conclusion addressing everyone, his temperament raising, that he had noticed  the tendency of workers standing about while on the clock with a soft drink in one  hand,  then  sternly reprimanding all with a statement,  “I can’t recall hiring any one hand employees”.  The meeting adjourned, the employee giving witness to Steve’s  appropriately  stated petition.

Jerry Whitney

Jerry Whitney

It was hard to believe if the rumor was true,  an unbelievable account, an occurrence that would resonate thru the Kiowa community.  Gary first hearing about the event from John Miller, it concerned Jerry Whitney and of all things, Cattle Bale Feeders, Jerry having ordered the bale feeders as part of the sales inventory.   As the drawn-out story read, a farming customer purchased several bale feeders,  meeting Jerry where they were stored at Dumlers barn northwest of town.  When confronted with the non payment,  the person came forward with a cancelled check for the full amount, the only disparaging quagmire being, the check was not made out to Kiowa Service, but to Jerry Whitney.  It became apparent after being brought to Steve Miller’s attention there was more to the story as Steve called John Blunk, the Barber County Sheriff to investigate.  Jerry renown for his integrity, Gary having witnessed Steve in attesting to Jerry’s trust worthiness,  that he could leave his wallet with Jerry.   The whispered rumors around town persisted, that  Jerry’s wife Teresa, who was the  administrator for Dumler Cattle Company was someway involved leading to Jerry’s  indiscretion.  Opening the store Monday morning, being told that Jerry wouldn’t be in,  the word surfacing  that Sheriff John Blunks had visited with Jerry  admitting his indiscretion,  Steve Miller willing to let the matter drop in lieu of restitution and Jerry’s immediate resignation as parts manager.   Gary was perplexed, finding it totally unbelievable, there was more to the story, a person of Jerry’s unquestionable character would never commit such a degradation, but his absence as an employee spoke for itself.

Several days later Steve Miller  convoking Gary to his office and as was his habit probing for conviction, questioning and asking the employee to give a self appraisal in fulfilling the position vacated by Jerry.  Gary was realistic, not altogether surprised at being thrust into the management position given the fact that harvest was fast approaching and it would be difficult finding a more experienced person.  Donning his best stature of  self-assurance he expressed his confidence, aware of  the responsibility and was up to making the parts department ready for the upcoming harvest season.  Steve suggesting that if he had any questions  he might visit with Larry Foster the service manager about the inventory for harvest.   With the new responsibility also came an increase in salary and a concerted transformation with new concepts now adorned the parts department, no longer bulk stacks of five gallon drums of oil and hydraulic fluid,  indiscriminate barrels of miscellaneous tools and item.   An organized presentation of Deere’s products, the initiated life-time guaranteed John Deere tools,  a display of clothing, wanton miniature replication for the young, a paradigm of tillage and lawn and garden applications,  providing an accepted family accouchement.

New to the parts department, Craig Brattin

New to the parts department, Craig Brattin

Parts department clerk Barbara was leaving, Gary having hired Kathy Rathgeber to replace her, Kathy having originally worked for Larry in the service department desiring a change and was already skilled at pricing service work orders and cataloging sales for inventory control.  Another new person coming aboard, Craig Brattin, a very personable good nature additon who would work well up front in customer service.  Gary, when under Jerry Whitney’s direction was the primary responder to address the shop service window, failing to be exact in acquainting their needs or erroneous parts for service calls would find the service person returning with a barrage of expletive-deleted,  a disservice to them and the customer,  costing  both,  money to a flat-rate scaled mechanic and time to the customer.    Gary when first employed had experienced tribulation working the front counter, not knowing a plowshare from a drill boot,  giving Brattin some basic instructions, if he needed assistance he knew Gary’s location and if alone and not sure give the customer the  parts manual,  letting them decide their needs,  finding the farmer knew more about their equipment and implements than you did.  In essence the acquisition of knowledge in itself is more than a learning experience, it’s a certitude.

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