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Editorís Note: Case Corp. and New Holland, N.V., merged in late 1999, forming CNH Global. At that time, the company announced a multiple-brand, common platform strategy - a new approach in the ag equipment industry. True to the strategy, the marketing and sales organizations for Case IH and New Holland remain separate. James Irwin serves as vice president of the North American Case IH agricultural business with responsibility for marketing, sales, product support and training.

AM: From a marketing standpoint, how are you keeping the Case IH brands separate from the New Holland brands? And what is the future of the Case IH brand?

JI: Both brands have loyal customer bases, and while the brands will evolve over time, we need to preserve those elements that are most meaningful to our customers.

Our dealers are part of what defines the Case IH brand. Five years ago we instituted a Dealer Certification Program to ensure that all Case IH dealerships offer the same high level of service and expertise. Today, customer satisfaction scores for our dealers approach world-class levels and improve daily. With this type of commitment, we know we have a strong future. The Case IH brand is built on the strength of the Case and IH brands - a legacy that spans more than 150 years. The merger will be just another chapter of that legacy.

AM: How are you marketing the new organization to dealers?

JI: Our industry has witnessed a 50 percent decline in the number of dealers since 1970. Market forces, more than the actions of manufacturers, are driving this consolidation. Today, we see 8 percent of farms producing 72 percent of the agricultural products we consume. More is produced, but fewer, bigger farmers are doing it. As the profile of American farmers changes, it is appropriate for the size and makeup of the dealers who serve them to change as well. One thing that has not changed is the need for dealers who have knowledgeable technicians and the parts to support customers when they need it. We are working with our dealer network to ensure that.

Our communications efforts with dealers occur on a national level - such as the dealer meeting we held last summer - as well as on a personal level. The national events help build Case IH spirit, but personal communications between field staff and dealers are still most effective. We know our efforts are successful when we see dealers passing our messages on to their customers. I attribute our strong start in first quarter 2001 directly to the work of our dealers.

AM: How are you using the Internet to sell your story to customers?

JI: Almost two years ago we helped all Case IH dealers set up Web sites customized to their location and product offering with links to and from the Case IH site. Our recent work has focused on developing extranet resources for our dealers. One of the Internetís biggest benefits is its ability to streamline business-to-business exchanges.

The Internet also is a great tool for communicating with customers about our products and services, our dealer network, and news about our company and the Case IH brand. For example, when we announced that we would transfer production of our combines from our East Moline, Ill., facility to our Grand Island, Neb., facility, we sent a letter to customers explaining why we were taking that action. We then posted the letter to our Web site. The letter was downloaded by thousands of people within a couple of weeks.

AM: Case IH sells most types of farm equipment. Are there plans for product expansion into new areas?

JI: One example of our expanded product offering is the Selected by Case IH program - a company-certified selection and reconditioning process. Lease-return Magnum tractors undergo a thorough 139-point inspection and reconditioning process at a certified reconditioning center. The pre-owned tractors are backed by a one-year company warranty and sold through the Case IH dealer network. Many farmers shop the secondary market, and this is just another reason for them to consider Case IH.

One area where we are broadening our line is in the under 40-hp tractor class. Our new DX Series compact line taps into totally new customer segments. The increased R&D resources of our combined company will allow us to further develop our product offerings. AM

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