John Deere franchise cancels franchise with local dealer

Crews work to remove the John Deere sign from outside Victoria Farm Equipment Co., on Wednesday.
  • Victoria Farm Equipment Co. is still open. The shop is at 2501 Callis St. For more information on the store or changes, call 361-573-2497 or e-mail vfe@victoriafarmeq.com.

Wednesday was Victoria Farm Equipment Co.'s last day as a John Deere dealer.

After 21 years, John Deere canceled its association with the store, said John Stockbauer Jr., Victoria Farm Equipment Co.'s president.

In December, John Deere notified the company it had until Wednesday to sell to a larger operation or lose its association with the company, he said.

"Today is termination day," Stockbauer said. "We didn't meet their goals."

John Deere's long-term plan is to have "dealers of tomorrow," which are multiple-store owners, said Jennifer Charbula, Victoria Farm Equipment's office manager.

Dealers of tomorrow achieve high market share and financial performance, as well as customer satisfaction, according to the John Deere Web site.

A model John Deere dealer brings in $50 million in annual sales, according to an article by Cygnus Business Media.

Customer service has always been one of the local store's top priorities, Charbula said.

The farm equipment company began in 1945 by John Stockbauer Sr. It began as an Allis Chalmers dealer but, on April 15, 1988, changed to John Deere, Stockbauer said.

Today it remains a family-owned-and-operated company.

Most John Deere equipment has already sold, Charbula said, but the company will pick up the rest of it Thursday. Victoria Farm Equipment Co. will still service previously-sold John Deere products.

On Wednesday afternoon, the company's showroom was still a sea of green and yellow, selling everything from John Deere T-shirts to baseball caps and even tractor-shaped Christmas lights.

Things might be changing, but Victoria Farm Equipment Co. isn't going anywhere.

The company plans to continue with business but pursue different dealers, said Jeff Stockbauer, who works in sales.

"We're here," he said. "We want to continue to be here and support our customers in Victoria and the surrounding counties."

The company's plans should be in place by August, Charbula said.

The store's customers and employees have remained loyal through the years and Victoria Farm Equipment appreciates that, she said, explaining that she and her family remain optimistic.

"I always say everything happens for a reason," she said.

Attempts to reach John Deere representatives were unsuccessful.