There's been no shortage of announcements at the Kansas City Convention Center this week as Agco Corp. reveals its largest ever annual lineup of new products.
One interesting announcement, however, doesn't have anything to do with new machinery, technology or equipment lines. But it does have a strong message about appreciation of history and heritage.
Agco is returning to sponsorship of the telecast of National Finals Rodeo, according to Todd Stucke, director of marketing for the hay and forage line of Agco equipment. The broadcast of the rodeo finals was started in 1975 by Hesston Co. Agco discontinued sponsorship in 2007.
Stucke said it has not been determined just how prominent Agco's place in the sponsorship will be this fall, but he said the company is entering a four-year contract to be a broadcast sponsor.
And the Agco logo will once again be stamped on the Hesston NFR belt buckles that have been around since 1975 and remain popular with cowboys and collectors alike.
The original Hesston belt buckle dates back to 1974 and commands a steep price, as high as $1,000, in collectors markets. An online catalog advertises it at $650, but notes it as being 'currently out of stock.'
Only 15,000 of the square buckles imprinted with the name "Hesston" were made. They were designed to be given away to Hesston equipment dealers and their customers.
The following year, Hesston Co. entered into an agreement to sponsor the television broadcast of the National Finals Rodeo and the buckle was redesigned to include an imprint from a rodeo event and the words National Finals Rodeo as well as Hesston. More history can be found at http://www.bucklesofestes.com/hesston_history.htm.
Stucke said the rodeo sponsorship is the first of several projects that Agco will undertake to honor the heritage that came with its acquisition of the Hesston Co. back in 1991.
"We know that loyalty to the Hesston brand runs deep and that pride in Hesston products is part of our culture," he said.
He said the company is not quite ready to make further announcements about what the heritage initiative will entail. As more information becomes available, we'll pass it along.