S2: Trip 1 – Data-rich Stories Move Used Machinery Market

By Jason Tatge | Published Aug. 25, 2020

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Editor’s note:  Road trips change their meaning during a pandemic. We’ve all had to alter our thinking about randomly climbing into someone else’s cab or car.  So, we adapt – like Jason Tatge, Farmobile CEO, and Greg Peterson, a.k.a. Farm Journal’s “Machinery Pete,” who opted in early April for a virtual road trip from an iPad in Big Red’s front seat. 

From the Driver’s Log, 2020:  Sometimes your professional life and college days intersect in business. My wife and I are grads of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, where the slogan is “Strength Comes to Us From Heaven.” Maybe it was just coincidence, but Episode 1 / Season 2  found me virtually trucking with Greg Peterson, a fellow Gustavus grad and basically the blue-book for farm equipment. It was a lively conversation – a true bright spot in an uncertain pandemic spring. 

Greg is a digital pioneer known by farmers for 30+ years as “MachineryPete”. His online auction is the fastest-growing marketplace for buyers and sellers of used farm equipment offering a vast selection of equipment listings in one place with innovative search tools that make it easy and fast to find relevant equipment. Founded in 1989, Machinery Pete has come a long way since its beginnings in Greg’s home office in Rochester, MN where he passionately researched, tracked and reported on auction prices. In 2014 Farm Journal and Machinery Pete partnered to provide a more efficient marketplace for buying and selling used ag equipment. We had a fantastic conversation. And I learned how farmers and dealers digitally-engage in the used machinery market and what forces most affect purchasing — even during a pandemic. 

I learned a lot of amazing things about online auctions from my Truckin’ talk with Greg. Here are three:

Greg Peterson, a.k.a Machinery Pete


“Yeah. People know me as that crazy auction guy.”
  1. Individual machine metrics could revolutionize the used equipment market for buyers and sellers. Currently the resale value of farm equipment is based upon machine tach hours. For someone buying a piece of used equipment, however, knowing whether that machine is spending an hour idling or working is really important, but it’s often a missing piece of machine’s history when it goes to auction. According to Greg, Farmobile’s ability to collect an individual machine’s performance data in real-time and historically not only helps farmers track efficiencies while the machine is in use,  but could add huge value when trading or selling. For sellers, who can show a machine’s history at auction,  could have an edge in the used equipment market. “Honestly, I think what Farmobile is doing … could revolutionize the used farm equipment business because, presently, it’s measured on the tach hour,” he said. 
  2. Farmers and dealers, who can show real metrics to tell a machine’s story, could have a significant edge. Greg sees tremendous opportunities for farmers to use machine data to tell a more accurate equipment story that is backed by provable metrics.  “Let’s just take a tractor. It’s five years old, it’s got X number of tach hours, but that doesn’t fully tell the story of that tractor. What I’ve seen over the years, anecdotally,  is that machine storytelling is a major component of the process,” said Greg. “ … People that are at sale are very interested in talking to owners about ‘how’ they used the tractor.” He observed that “good, useful data” will equate to more dollars in farmers’ pockets when it comes time to sell or trade. “So I tell you, the things you guys (Farmobile) are doing, I think it’s a very exciting path that you are going down,” he added.
  3. Helping farmers and ag retailers crunch the numbers of the performance and profitability of individual machines or a full fleet is even more important during these tight economic times.  That old saying is true. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Farmobile’s ability to collect and standardize machine (and agronomic) data, visualize it in real-time on a machine dashboard and provide daily, weekly and monthly machine utilization reports  is powerful stuff. Greg noted that farmers participating in online auctions can’t kick the tires. So pictures and provenance on a piece of equipment are crucial. “Documenting how each machine was used and then bringing that forward again…. I’ve got 30 years experience tracking auctions daily. And when there’s a higher degree of confidence in how long that was, you increase sell ability …. So yeah, I’m excited for what you guys are building there,” said Greg.

I can’t wait to hit the road, again, with Greg — next year during safer times.

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