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What turf managers should know before choosing an equipment dealer

May 16, 2024  - By 0 Comments
The original Finch location from 1945. (Photo: Finch Turf)

The original Finch location from 1945. (Photo: Finch Turf)

One of the country’s largest John Deere equipment dealers, Finch Turf is no stranger to the green industry.

The business began in 1945 when the son of John Deere Vice President Ray Finch, Alvah, and his wife, Catherine, established the first Finch dealership in Medford, Md. In 1987, the company expanded into the turf world.

Now, Shannan Finch-Hidey, the great-great-granddaughter of Ray Finch, carries on the family legacy as the vice president of marketing for Finch Turf, alongside her dad and two brothers.

“Our whole team really does feel like family,” Finch-Hidey says. “We have a gentleman that just celebrated his 50th anniversary with us and that’s something we take an immense amount of pride in.”

On top of having pride in her company, Finch-Hidey says she is also grateful that she loves what she does.

Shannan Finch-Hidey

Shannan Finch-Hidey

Establishing relationships

A major part of having a successful business, Finch-Hidey says, is making and maintaining solid relationships with its partners. In the turf world, that’s especially important to find the right mower, aerator, sprayer, etc., that fits that specific field or facility.

“It’s important to know what your ultimate goal is,” Finch-Hidey says. “Every facility is going to have different goals. What are you trying to do? How often is the field being used? What is your full budget? What is your staff capability with the number of people that you have?”

Once a field manager fully understands their goals, that’s where a distributor comes into play.

“Now, how does the equipment fit into this?” She continues. “How does our technology fit into what you’re trying to do? And then let’s get creative from there.”

When Finch Turf partnered with the Maryland Soccerplex, in Boyds, Md., it formed a long-lasting relationship. According to Finch-Hidey, the two teams regularly bounce ideas off of each other to help find the right fit for the facility according to its budget.

This process, says Jerad Minnick, director of grounds and environmental management at the Soccerplex, can be a bit tricky, since the facility is funded by a nonprofit and the budget isn’t as easily accessible as it might be at other facilities.

“If we can’t make it back, then we can’t spend it or we shouldn’t spend it,” he says. “It has to have a payoff.”

Minnick says Finch Turf helped him and his team with that obstacle and helped supply the right fleet for them. Now, the Maryland Soccerplex exclusively uses John Deere equipment.

“Relationships with people like Jerad and facilities like the Maryland Soccerplex are critical,” Finch-Hidey says. “They mean so much to us because not only do they have longevity, but then we know we can trust him to also share with his peers how we’re helping him and how we might help them.”

The Finch Family. (Photo: Finch Turf)

The Finch Family. (Photo: Finch Turf)

Word travels far

Finch-Hidey says she wishes more turf managers knew how much their words meant to one another.

“People sharing the experience they had with us and our team and John Deere, the products and how it has helped them and the different ways we can be creative and find solutions for them — all of that carries a lot of weight,” she says.

Paul Schultheis

Paul Schultheis

The turf world isn’t a large one, relatively speaking. A lot of people know one another from attending the same schools, industry events, apprenticeships, etc. Having these meaningful relationships with the dealers of the industry can benefit both sides of the agreement.

“We really consider ourselves part of their crew,” Paul Schultheis, vice president of sales for Finch Turf, says. “So, when something happens, when they need something, we are there for them. We’re a phone call away. We’re a text away. We may just already happen to be there. It’s important to us that they know we’re somebody they can rely on.”

Schultheis says turf is their clients’ lives, and the Finch Turf team makes it theirs, too.

“That’s where the difference in the relationship comes in,” he continues. “And when you have that relationship, then the equipment portion of it is really just kind of automatic.”

If you win, I win

Finch Turf serves the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions, including several high-profile clients in the world of professional sports.

The FInch Turf sales team at the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. (Photo: Finch Turf)

The FInch Turf sales team at the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. (Photo: Finch Turf)

Schultheis has fond memories of the 2019 World Series, when one of Finch’s clients, the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros to win their first championship in franchise history. Schultheis and his team had the opportunity to be on the field for every home game in D.C.

“That was a weird one because they lost all of the home games, so we got to feel the defeat with the crew, but then they won all of the games in Houston, so we got to be there in spirit for those,” he says. “That was a really unique experience from a sports fan perspective.”

On a different wavelength, Schultheis says he enjoys working with Minnick and the Maryland Soccerplex and coming up with new creative solutions for their needs.

“(The Soccerplex) was putting GPS technology onto tractors and for them to do just some things that people weren’t necessarily doing in the sports space feels good for us,” he says. “When we can be creative and do things that are a little outside of the box, and then it’s a big win for them because they’re utilizing it and that data is helping them run their operation better — that’s a win-win type thing.”

Read more about Minnick and the Maryland Soccerplex here.

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About the Author:

Sydney is a graduate from Kent State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations with minors in Marketing and Advertising. While attending KSU, she held multiple internships and was a reporter for the Kent Stater.

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