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Itís been said that with change comes opportunity. If thatís true, there are opportunities aplenty for companies which support the agricultural dealer/distributor market, with its consolidating numbers and increasing e-business usage. Thatís why Willoughby, Ohio-based Meister Publishing Co. has launched its CyberDealer Initiative. The company is developing a host of informational and educational tools - in print, online and in person - that ag dealers can use to succeed in the emerging world of e-business.

"Economic factors are driving consolidation, but with a smaller number of larger suppliers and farmers, new relationships become important," says Gary Fitzgerald, president of Meister. "Dealers have to come to grips with how they create value and transfer new technologies onto the farm."

Meisterís Plant Protection Group, which has responsibility for the new initiative, also supports the ag distribution network with magazines like Farm Chemicals, Farm Chemicals International and the 900+ page Farm Chemicals Handbook. As part of the initiative, Meister will introduce a publication called CyberDealer with a January/February 2001 issue.

CyberDealer is a national publication directed to dealers, distributors and manufacturers, with wider circulation than Farm Chemicals. For example, it also has circulation among grain handlers and processors, whose information needs are changing as they work more with dealers in output management. CyberDealer will have deeper penetration at dealerships by including readers with titles such as precision technology specialist and Web manager.

But the new magazine is only part of the CyberDealer Initiative. While CyberDealer is United States-specific, its Web counterpart,, services a global audience much like Farm Chemicals International, even though its focus is the U.S. audience.

As part of the CyberDealer Initiative, the company piloted live workshops in December and will introduce "in person" training and seminars. The intent of the workshops and seminars is to provide important market knowledge covering the e-revolution and offer important networking opportunities for dealers to compare products, services and success stories.

"Retail organizations need a partner to help sort out the technology and lead them to the new millennium fully equipped to succeed in the wired world," Fitzgerald says.

The initiativeís launch is aided by Meisterís recent acquisition of Clear Window MultiMedia of St. Louis. Clear Window was a firm specializing in agricultural publishing, Web site development, video production and public relations.

With the purchase, Meister acquired Dealer Progress magazine, which served the same agricultural dealer/distributor readership as Meisterís Farm Chemicals. The final issue of Dealer Progress was published in November 2000, and its most popular features will now be included in Farm Chemicals. Also part of the purchase were Clear Windowís annual Precision Agriculture Buyerís Guide and Web site,, both of which Meister plans to continue, expand and link with several other Meister Web activities.

K. Elliott Nowels, president of Clear Window MultiMedia, will join Meister at its Willoughby, Ohio, headquarters as vice president of business development. Nowels also will be a contributing editor to Farm Chemicals.

Leading the CyberDealer Initiative are Paul Schrimpf, editor of CyberDealer magazine, and Dan Bellanger, business manager. The CyberDealer Initiative is part of Meisterís Plant Protection Group, under the executive management of Al Strohmaier, group publisher, and Jim Sulecki, executive editor.

Ten years ago "publishing" meant printed materials. Today, the definition is much broader as publishing companies like Meister explore new opportunities. AM

Paul Welsh is a freelance copywriter and marketing communications consultant based in Leawood, Kan.

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