Tuesday, October 02, 2012

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Talking 'Back

It was a win-win at John Deere Feedback, where supers told Deere what they thought of its products in development.

By Beth Geraci

On the Duke University Campus in Durham, N.C., the patio overlooking the school's golf course was jumping. Superintendents from across the country were talking shop over cocktails and appetizers, and socializing with the Deere distributors who invited them there.

The casual evening reception, held just as the sun was about to set, was the perfect launch to John Deere's Feedback event. The superintendents, and other course reps, had been invited there to sample Deere products in development and tell Deere what they liked about them and what they didn't. Hence the name "Feedback."

Deere ultimately uses the feedback it receives to inspire and modify its full line of upcoming products.

Mark Ford, marketing manager, John Deere Golf, explained that "because superintendents and technicians are on the course every day, it's essential that our team engages at events like Feedback - where we can gain insights that ensure we're developing products that are driven by customer needs."

Seth Baranyi, assistant superintendent at Brandywine Country Club in Akron, Ohio, was happy to play a small role in that product development. "The engineers are really listening well to our input," he said. "With the feedback that they're getting from us - (the people) who are using this equipment every day -- they can increase their productivity. So that'll be helpful for us when they actually put these into production."

Wells Mcclure, superintendent at Tenasi Golf Club in Loudon, Tenn., said he was happy to have a chance to see firsthand how Deere's future line feels, not to mention to be able to hang with some of his counterparts.

"It just kind of educates you a little bit on what they've got, what they're coming up with and how it fits with our course's needs," he said.

And as superintendents sampled equipment behind him, Mcclure added "not many people understand why we get up and work 14 hours a day every day for four months in the summer. It's good to talk to people who understand that, and to have a chance to learn from each other."

Later, after they'd given all of their feedback, attendees boarded a bus to John Deere Turf Care, where they had a chance to see Deere products rolling off the assembly line.

The event ended with a buffet dinner back on the patio. The mood was jovial. Because attendees would leave with not only a better feel for Deere products, but also with a bevy of new friends.

When all was said and done, said Kizer Klemmer, superintendent at Ridgeway CC in Memphis, Tenn., "I think they're definitely moving in the right direction, making our jobs easier."

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