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VIEW FROM THE TOP
CHALLENGER: A WINNING COMBINATION
Editor's Note: Randy Hoffman is senior vice president and general manager of the Challenger Division Worldwide for AGCO Corporation, Duluth, Ga. He is responsible for distribution, marketing, product development strategy, revenue growth and profitability of the Challenger brand.

AM: As one of AGCO's machinery brands, how does the company work with Caterpillar to create Challenger tractors?

RH: AGCO and Caterpillar have a very strong partnership. Prior to AGCO purchasing Caterpillar's AG division, AGCO was one of Caterpillar's largest engine customers. Caterpillar continues to supply more than half of the components of the Challenger MT 700 and MT 800 series track tractors. This is one reason why they remain the best track tractors on the market today. In addition, the majority of our expanded Challenger range of products, including wheeled tractors, combines and self-propelled windrowers, are powered by CAT engines.

AM: What sets Challenger products apart from other equipment brands?

RH: The Challenger brand features the exceptional combination of Challenger product and the Caterpillar dealer network. The Challenger product line features some of the finest machinery and technology available ... including the industry's finest track tractor, an extensive line-up of wheeled tractors available with revolutionary Continuously Variable Transmission technology and industry-leading harvesting equipment. Unquestionably, the CAT dealers comprise the finest dealer network in the industry. They have built solid businesses based on an unwavering commitment to supplying their customers with the best parts and service support available. We believe the partnership between Challenger, Caterpillar and the CAT dealers is an unbeatable combination.

AM: How important is a good dealer network to the success of Challenger?

RH: A good dealer network is essential to the success of any brand in today's competitive marketplace. There are more large commercial farms today than five years ago. These farms are businesses that are focused on productivity and profitability. Farm machinery is also becoming more technologically sophisticated. As these trends continue, it will be increasingly clear that well-capitalized, well-trained and technology-savvy dealers who know how to take care of customers and minimize downtime will be in demand. The CAT dealers are uniquely qualified and positioned to provide these customers with a level of parts and service support not previously experienced in the ag equipment market. This clearly establishes a tremendous customer benefit and competitive advantage for Challenger.

AM: What is Challenger's primary marketing goal for 2005?

RH: Challenger is the fastest-growing equipment brand in North America, and we intend to continue this rapid growth. We have several marketing initiatives in place for 2005 that will contribute to the growth of Challenger and the successful introduction of many significant product enhancements, as well as new models throughout the Challenger product line.

AM: What marketing achievements has Challenger experienced in the past year?

RH: This is only our second complete year of marketing the full line of Challenger products. We have successfully introduced the first in a series of new tractor models as well as a new line-up of combines. Challenger continues to increase awareness levels and, most importantly, to gain trial and acceptance among our key target audiences.

We are "opening a lot of eyes" and "turning a lot of heads" with the new Challenger machinery. Demonstrations are a critical tactic within our overall marketing strategy. In the current marketing environment, if you are to grow your business, you will do it by displacing other brands. Demonstrations have proven to be invaluable in doing this. When it comes to equipment, we are marketing to an intelligent, sophisticated and, many times, skeptical audience. By spending time in the cab of the tractor, rolling a few bales, cutting alfalfa with a windrower or harvesting a few acres of corn with the new Challenger combine, we have proven over and over that the Challenger product is some of the finest machinery available. Many Challenger customers have taken the CAT dealers "out for a test drive" as well. They like what they have seen and experienced.

Our marketing efforts have also focused on the commitment the CAT dealers have to the agriculture business. Customers are convinced that these dealers can take care of them because of their superior after-the-sale support. AM


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