The first national TYM dealer meeting in Wilson, N.C., opened with 6 inches of snow - the first significant snowfall North Carolina has seen in 5 years. But while most of the state slid to a halt from January 20-22, TYM dealers from around the country gathered at the company's U.S. headquarters.
"In Korea, snowfall on an opening day is a sign of good luck and prosperity for the future," H.Y. Kim, chairman of TYM told the 140 gathered dealers at the commencement of the meeting. Kim spoke to dealers about a tough year behind them, but made it clear that TYM was ready for the future.
The company has been supplying tractors to various companies in the U.S. market for 30 years and entered the U.S. with its own brand in 2001. They still provided tractors for 2 other companies, but a little over a year ago TYM cut the last of its ties as a supplier and became a full-fledged player in the U.S. tractor market.
Now TYM is looking to grow. Currently hovering around 200 dealerships, TYM has its sights on expansions and hopes to add dealers throughout the entire U.S. It currently runs its U.S. operations out of two distribution centers: one in Redmond, Oreg., and one in Wilson, N.C., which also features a 100,000 sq. ft. warehouse. According to TYM officials, there is room to double its size in Wilson when the time comes.
New Programs, Pricing and Products. With its sights set on the future, TYM used its first national dealer meeting to introduce a host of new programs. Apart from unveiling new, relaxed pricing on many of its models, TYM announced price breaks for dealers willing to buy tractors in package deals. There was an additional discount for placing an order at the show and the company has a year-round 4% markdown for dealers who pay cash.
For dealers not liquid enough to pay in cash, the show marked the 3-month anniversary of the company's in-house floor planning, a program that puts them in a select class of tractor retailers that are able to offer their own financial backing for their dealer network.
As of now, under TYM's floor-plan, dealers have premier industry terms before interest begins to accumulate on unsold inventory. Dealers at the show told Farm Equipment that they like the flexibility the plan affords them, and appreciate the option of being able to easily move tractors between dealerships without having to work through a middleman like they had been with GE Finance.
At 270 days, the dealer can choose to begin interest payments on the tractor or, according to TYM's credit manager Jackie Blalock, can return it to the company with no penalty.
Perhaps the highlight of the dealer meeting, though, was the unveiling of five new models — fleshing out TYM's offerings and directly responding to dealer requests.
Most notable among them was the T300S, a 30-horsepower "price" tractor designed to keep TYM dealers competitive with other companies with similar models. The T300S features a 4-cylinder Mitsubishi engine, hydrostatic power steering, intuitive gear design, 1,700-pound 3-point and loader-lift capacities, a standard quick-attach bucket and TYM's 5-year warranty.
"This is something our dealer have been asking us for," says Charley Mullet, National Marketing Manager for TYM. "The T300 still has a lot of options and, while it doesn't offer as many features as a lot of our line, its designed to keep our dealer price-competitive in a tough market.
Involving the Dealer. Listening to dealers seems to be a common theme in TYM's growth strategy. Not only was the meeting designed to give dealers multiple opportunities to share concerns and ideas with TYM management, but the company is instituting a national dealer council and actively recruiting members.
According to TYM, the dealer council is the keystone of its future and necessary to get out ahead of problems and respond to them quickly. Still, though, the company understands that making sales should the priority of its dealers, so is looking to limit the time consumption of participation in the council.
For that reason, the company is experimenting with a "remote" council, where dealers connect with each other and report to the company through the Internet. This will allow them to devote their time to helping the TYM brand grow.
Building a Brand. "Building brand awareness is key for us right now," says Mullet, "but we're paying special attention to where we build it."
While the company relies on national newspapers and the internet to make TYM's face a recognizable one, Mullet is particularly concerned with getting the tractor accepted in niche markets where he thinks TYM can find a profitable foothold. The company has committed a very significant budget to advertising in 2009. It's stretching its capital from equestrians, to hobby farms, to parks and recreation markets where TYM's tractors might fit.
Terry Jordan, TYM's dealer of the year, is happy with the company's new marketing strategy. Still, he hopes they don't abandon what's allowed them to grow to this point.
"They gave the dealers pricing incentives and allowed them to build their own markets," he says from his western Idaho dealership. "I think it's worked well in our dealership. We were up over 200% this year, and a large part of that was the company building on quality and price rather than just advertising. They let us dealers lead the way."
The TYM dealer meeting made it clear that the company has no intention of abandoning those incentives. Apart from the standard 4% discount the tractor maker gives dealers who purchase inventory with cash, it allowed dealers an additional 4% break on any tractors ordered during the meeting.
"I ordered close to 100 at the show," says Jordan, noting that he was looking at it from a year-long perspective. "I think TYM is a good company and, more importantly, I think they're in the right place at the right time."