How many dealers are there in the U.S.? Is there an ongoing program to enlist new dealers? Is there an advertising program to promote the product? I'd never heard of an "Ingersoll" until my 444 came my way. Seems like all the R&D work that supposedly costs so much has been done for years, so I really don't want to hear whining about that. Start a sub-division to market the parts at a reasonable price, get the tooling, (they already have the rights and specs), and get moving. The CEO needs to kick their Marketing Div. out on their a$$ and hire good people to do the job. I've seen on this site about capable people being out of work-HIRE THEM. They may consider going back and marketing the LT line to compete with the box stores. There are ways to make the company viable, they just need to think out of the box a little and do something instead of wringing their collective hands while the company dies. If the company would provide real support, four good people would be able to start working towards a good dealer network in the U.S. and three or four more in Canada to do the same. My point of view is marketing and Eastman just doesn't get it done. Not everybody can afford a new 4018 or whatever, but there are people that can and will buy if they know about the product. Goes back to re-introducing the LT line to help with the normal consumer.
I am going to swing a double-edged sword with this reply.
One one side, you have to look at the history. J. I. Case is world-wide corporation that began before the American Civil War. By the time Case bought Colt, the company already had a dealer network in place all over North America and the world. The name was highly trusted and they had ultra-deep pockets. The outdoor products division flourished largely in part to those facts. Anyone in agriculture, construction or associated trades were familiar with the Case name and what it stood for.
The problems began in 1986 when the Case name was no longer on the tractor but the Ingersoll name was. Who is Ingersoll? What do they know about making lawn and garden tractors? Jack Ingersoll ran smack dab into the wall called "brand recognition". Some Case dealers decided to stop selling these tractors just as soon as the Case name disappeared. This was a high-end product with a high price tag. People who have the money to buy high-end products not only wanted the CASE name on their tractor (snob appeal) but they also wanted the strength of a big corporation like J. I. Case backing up the product. Who can blame them? But if the lack of those two factors caused them to look elsewhere when they bought their next machine, then sales of Ingersoll branded products fell; both at the dealer level and at the corporate level. Dealers are in business to make money. They are not going to tie up showroom space, stockroom space and warehouse space unless there is public acceptance of the product.
I think that Jack Ingersoll MAY have seen the writing on the wall and decided to jump ship. He sold the company to the Rothenberger Group and that (in the opinion of many) was truly the worst possible thing that could have happened. I collect printed material. Case was fantastic at putting out advertising literature. They had dealer incentives, sales literature, belt buckles, hats, ties, tie pins, post cards, pith helmets, umbrellas etc. The amount of marketing done by the Rothenberger Group was apparently minimal, at best. I watch e-Bay all the time as does Jack. Try and find sales literature for 1995 to 2004 when Chapter 11 was declared. Thanks to Brian, I have the 2004 brochure and if you compare that brochure to the ones produced by Case or even when Jack Ingersoll was running the show, the difference is staggering. All through the 90's and into the 2000's, it is my understanding that dealers began to disappear from the landscape mainly because they felt that they were not being supported by the parent company. Fewer dealers obviously resulted in few sales of new tractors, as well as parts. More and more loyal owners were forced to change to another brand. By the time Eastman RESCUED Ingersoll, the brand was in terrible shape and none of that was their fault. Those who were at fault, are now long gone from the scene and Eastman is now expected to clean up their mess.
Let's look at the other side. Advertising can take place in newspapers, magazines, on the radio or television or on the internet. Most of these cost big bucks. A 30 second ad on Oprah's final TV show is allegedly going for a million bucks. Sure...that's the extreme end but even if you are spending ten grand for a 30 second spot, the tab mounts fast. We are talking about "return on investment" here in a highly competitive area of commerce. Realistically, it would take years of concerted action by Eastman to raise the profile of the awkward Ingersoll brand. Personally, I despise the name because all too often, it gets confused with Ingersoll-Rand. Some people might look on that as a bonus but I don't. Does anyone confuse Xerox with another brand? If someone utters that word, most people instantly know who the company is and what they make.
My major beef with Eastman is with their piece of crap website. No one will ever convince me that Eastman doesn't have the money to fix that problem. Doing so is just a beginning but it's a damn good start, in my books. The number of people who own a computer is growing every year and so is the number of people who are connected to the internet. This media isn't going away anytime soon and when you look at what other brands of GT's are doing on their websites to promote their product, Eastman's site looks like a home-based business at best. Eastman is desperate to find new dealers but in my opinion, they are going about it the wrong way. If you want to be a dealer, then you should be required to stock certain parts. That is called a "Initial stocking order" in dealer parlance. They should also be required to stock at least ONE tractor so that they have something to show prospective buyers. How do you sell a tractor from a brochure? Case had a Demonstrator Program for around five years to get the word out. Eastman could do something along those lines.
I have talked on the phone with Jeff, who is VP of Marketing. My impression is that Jeff is not the problem and that he can only do what the budget and Nick allow him to do. As for going into making box store types of tractors, the old Ingersoll company tried that many times and from what I see, none of them were very successful. I make that statement based on the number of e-Bay, C/L and other ads for the Case and Ingersoll LT, YT and RER models that were supposed to convince consumers to move up to the GT's that we all love. Right now, I'm trying to convince some of you to buy the ones that do show up and save them but even that is an uphill battle. The only reason most of you have a GT is because the price has dropped to the point of affordability. Of the 625 members on this site, it would surprise me if more than 5 own an Eastman-built Ingersoll. Eastman also needs to provide their dealers with a CURRENT brochure that shows the 3000 series and possibly the 3200 series if they went that far when they brought the Lo Pro line back. In my opinion, there is much that they can do that will not cost an arm and a leg but will go a long way to proving to the current dealer network that support is finally on the corporate agenda.