McCormick Turns Corner, Sees Solid Future

Company CEO Rodney Miller talks about the company focus at recent event.

McCormick International USA is on the move with a new facility in Duluth, Ga., a new equipment line and a new CEO. But the road has sometimes been a rocky one for this new company with a historic nameplate.

Rodney Miller, named the company's chief executive officer in April, 2008, recently presented some straight talk at the company's annual dealer meeting. One stinging reality for him to deal with up front was the fact the company placed dead last of the 39 equipment lines that were surveyed in the 2008 NAEDA (North American Equipment Dealers Association) report.

Miller told the audience of equipment dealers and other industry people. "We failed you in every category. That is not acceptable. To give validity to the report, if I were honest, it is exactly how I would have rated us."

Miller noted 2008 was a rebuilding and restructuring year for McCormick and that company officials are recommitting the company to its dealers.

"We've been working hard to right all of our wrongs," he said. "Let me say emphatically, we're still not where we need to be, but progress is being made."

Even while it was in the process of being renovated, Miller (left in gray coat) showed the company's new Duluth headquarters off to attendees at the McCormick International USA's annual dealer meeting. The new building will allow significant savings in freight and other costs while enhancing quality control and inventory.

The company has a slew of new products to offer customers this year, including a new look for the MTX and CX models, both of which shipped in the first quarter of 2009. The company has also recently introduced new TTX, CTU and CTV models as well as the XTX 145 and 165. Those are more new products for the company than are likely to be introduced for several years, Miller noted.

Profitability focus

ARGO S.p.a of Italy acquired the McCormick name in 2000 and formulated a new business plan for the company. McCormick initially saw losses six years in a row after the company's inception in the USA in December 2001. But Miller believes they have now turned that situation around.

"Last year (2008) we broke that six-year losing streak to become profitable," he said. "And we're going to stay the course for next year and the year after."

As part of the rebuilding process the company has made strides in filling parts orders. Miller noted the company has much improved its performance in fulfilling orders in a timely way. The company has also totally restructured the service and warranty department. It made major changes in programs, particularly with aggressive financing. The company was the first in the industry, for example, to announce 0% financing for 60 months on main product offerings under 100 horsepower.

Can you hear me now?

Although customers are only likely to see or feel it indirectly, the company has made changes in the way it interacts with its USA employees, including paying bonuses for the first time ever in 2008.

The company has made enhancements to its web site, with easier navigation and an updated dealer locator.

Also, rather than relying on voicemail, the company made another enhancement customers and dealers will appreciate.

"We answer the phone," Miller said. "That may seem like a small thing, but it's big in customer service."

A new facility in Duluth, Ga., will help the company consolidate tractor assembly to one location with savings of between $500,000 and $750,000 in freight and logistics. Miller said it will also enhance quality control and in inventory management.

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