Community focused equipment dealer: Sundance Equipment strives for top customer relations
Sundance – Bob Yemington was raised in Torrington, and he made his way to Sundance as a young man, where he purchased Sundance Equipment on Dec. 1, 1975.
Bob landed in Sundance after attending college in Laramie, owning a shrimp boat in South Carolina and then working at a nuclear power plant in Florida.
“After we sold the shrimp boat, we came to Sundance,” Bob says. “I ended up cutting pitch posts, and when the opportunity came up to buy this place, a friend and I went in as partners. Later, I bought him out.”
Sundance Equipment is the only independent John Deere dealer in Wyoming. In 2011, they merged with a dealer in South Dakota, which is another family-run operation.
Bob oversees activity at the store, and his son Will has joined him in business, focusing on customer service and sales.
“Will started here putting away parts when he was in grade school,” Bob says.
After Will attended school in Chicago, Ill. at DePaul University, he wanted to come home.
“Will is very good with our customers, and he has a loyal following,” Bob comments. “I’ve been able to turn things over to him, like our global guidance systems, which comes second nature to him. It’s good to have Will as part of the business.”
Bob also emphasizes that people who work at the company are long-term employees.
“We focus on longevity and a loyal and much appreciated crew,” he says.
For Sundance Equipment, service is the top priority.
“We have four mechanics and two salesmen,” says Bob, which demonstrates their desire to serve customers. “When the IH dealer went out of business here, we tried to take care of those tractors, too.”
“This is good country, and it’s conservative country,” he continues. “We don’t want people buying new tractors and then turning them back later when they can’t afford a payment. We want to make sure their equipment works for them.”
“If customers aren’t happy with their equipment, they’re not happy with us,” Will adds. “We want to make sure they’re happy with us.”
“We have to stay up-to-date in the shop and be able to work on everything,” he says.
Bob continues, noting that, even in a pinch, they strive to provide their customers with good quality, working equipment.
“We had a gentleman who called at two o’clock on a Friday afternoon going into a three-day weekend. His hay was cut, and his baler broke down,” Bob says. “We set him up with a rental baler, and he got his hay up. That’s important to us.”
Through the years
For Bob, the equipment business has changed remarkably through the years, and he has embraced the changes to meet the needs of customers.
“When we started out, we started selling round balers,” he says. “They were the first round balers, and virtually every rancher who didn’t have one said they didn’t need or want one, saying, ‘You won’t find one of those hay wasting pieces of equipment on my place.’ Today, round balers dominate.”
He continues that technology has also changed dramatically, from the advent of climate controlled tractor cabs to the influx of computers on board.
“The technology we see in tractors today is unbelievable,” Bob emphasizes.
Sundance Equipment will continue to grow and change to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, notes Bob.
“We’ll continue to expand as we can,” Bob says.
Technology has become a big part of their business, and Bob says the days of mechanics carrying grease rags in their back pockets are over.
“Some of our tractors have 47 or 50 computers on board,” he says. “Our technicians today have to understand that technology. There is a generation that doesn’t know that, though, which is too bad because it creates labor shortages for the industry.”
“The challenge increasingly on the service side is being able to work on things,” Will says. “It gets more complex every day. It’s not what mechanicing was 50 years ago or even 15 years ago.”
Will foresees that automation will continue to increase.
“I try to keep up on all the automation and guidance systems for our customers, and we provide the service related to those systems,” he says. “We’ll continue to see more auto-tracking and automation in the future.”
Bob also notes that his clientele has changed over the years. Although Sundance Equipment serves many large ranches in northeast Wyoming, southwest Montana and northwest South Dakota, he is seeing a transition to smaller operations.
“If a ranch is broken up, we lose a customer, but we also gain 30 potential new customers,” he explains. “We get a lot of retired people and younger people who move out of town onto five, 20 or 30 acres. They need snow removal, weed mowers and post hole diggers, so we’re here to serve them, as well.”
“When I was in high school, we wouldn’t have had as many Gators and small tractors here,” adds Will. “It was all haying equipment then, but we’ve got both now. We’ll continue to see smaller operations looking for equipment, too.”
With his eye toward the future, Bob says, “We’ll continue doing what we do. We work in ag because we love it, not because it always makes good sense.”
He continues, “It’s enjoyable working with the people we work with. We want to see them do well.”
“Sundance is the largest town in the county, but it’s still a small town,” Bob emphasizes. “I like our small town, and it’s a good place to be.”
Each year, Sundance Equipment hosts a street dance and barbeque event to provide a social venue for their clients and the community to get together.
“The community needs us, and we need the community,” Bob says. “We work together to support each other.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.