Equipment

Kubota: Not Just a Tractor Company

November 2014, Government Fleet - Feature

by Thi Dao - Also by this author

Todd Stucke, Kubota vice president, agriculture and turf division, said the company added three product marketing directors to guide product development and support. Photo courtesy of Kubota
Todd Stucke, Kubota vice president, agriculture and turf division, said the company added three product marketing directors to guide product development and support. Photo courtesy of Kubota

Kubota Tractor Corp. unveiled its newest equipment and announced changes to its company structure to improve its processes and services at a national dealer meeting. The meeting took place in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 12-16, and executives from Japan as well as the North American division were present.

The company’s goal to become a household name comes with a strong marketing push, efforts to improve product support, and 92 new products.

Improving Product Support

To improve product support for its dealers, Kubota created three separate marketing departments for the different sectors. Steve Barcuch serves as product marketing director for agricultural products, Paul Manger as product marketing director for construction equipment, and Rajesh Joshi as product marketing director for turf & RTVs.

Each product marketing director brings years of experience to his respective field.

“Not only do they know the product, they know the customer and they know their customer segments,” said Todd Stucke, Kubota vice president, agriculture and turf division, at the dealer meeting. “They know the industries they’re going after and they can help us out [so we can] work together and collaborate on what is the best approach to market.”

Although the company’s North American headquarters stays in Torrance, Calif., product marketing directors and their teams are headquartered closer to the center of the country. The turf & RTV section is based in Suwanee, Ga., outside of Atlanta, while agriculture and construction equipment are based in Fort Worth, Texas.

“We did that so we can move those guys closer to the end user, closer to the market,” Stucke said. “The West Coast is important to us, but the bulk of our business is in the Midwest.”

The company plans to strengthen its product support by increasing personnel, enhancing training, and building a more sophisticated IT system to improve operations. In the past year, Kubota hired 18 new service personnel to provide this support.

Additionally, Kubota is planning to open a parts distribution center in the Kansas City, Kan., area. By consolidating parts distribution into one place, the company can receive parts from Japan in one location, increase parts availability, and increase shipping capabilities so it can ship products out daily instead of weekly. Kubota’s goal is to be able to deliver parts to dealers within 24 hours.

Introducing New Products

In addition to Kubota’s announcement of its entrance into the commercial farming market, the company unveiled its first skid steer loaders, available in 2015. The SSV Series is the company’s first entry into the skid steer market, giving it a full lineup of construction equipment. The skid steer loaders also serve the rental and agricultural segments.

“There was still a hole in the lineup, and that natural piece to complete the fulfillment of being a full lineup is the skid steer loader,” Manger said. “By getting into this market — and this is something our dealers have been asking from us for a long time — it gives us an opportunity to appeal to a broader customer base.”

Another addition to its construction product lineup is the R30 series of wheel loaders. One of these, the R630, is Kubota’s first entry into the 60- to 80-hp range.

On the turf side, the company expanded the Z700X series of commercial mowers with the addition of three new models with Kawasaki engines. These replace Koehler engines, which was a decision made based on input from dealers, Joshi said.

“Kawasaki is the choice of a lot of the commercial cutters,” Joshi said. “We are adding that option for them, which means that our dealers can have additional segments to cater to and bring on board.”

These products are among the 92 new products added to company’s lineup for next year. Kubota’s expansion into large scale farming, the additions to its construction equipment lineup, and its efforts to improve product support are only some of the changes the company has begun in its quest to become a household name.

As Masatoshi Kimata, president of Kubota Corporation, said, “We are not just a small tractor company anymore.”

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