Upfront: Challenging first half

By Steve Noe

As you may recall, last month I devoted much of this space to inform you of the record-setting second-quarter results for two of the industry’s top manufacturers, Toro and Deere. I concluded my column by asking you to drop me an e-mail to let me know how your dealership fared in the first half of 2012 and what your expectations are for the second half of this year. I followed up that request by formally surveying many of you on your 2012 expectations, first-half results and second-half outlook.

First, I would like thank all of you who graciously took the time out of your busy schedules to respond to either request for feedback. And, after reading all of the excellent responses and compiling them for the cover story on page 10, I want to thank those of you who replied for your courage and candidness in what has been a challenging first half.

Yes, as you may have suspected, many of you have not shared the same degree of success as Toro and Deere. However, it has very little, if anything, to do with you, and much to do with Mother Nature.

Many of you entered 2012 with high hopes and expectations that were further heightened by the early arrival of spring weather, leading to a much-earlier-than-expected start to your selling season. However, the selling season cruelly came to an end almost as soon as it got started with the arrival of record-setting heat that has continued to grip most of the nation, leading to drought-like conditions and the evaporation of your sales.

The spring of 2012 was the culmination of the warmest March, third-warmest April and second-warmest May for the contiguous United States since records were first kept in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This marked the first time that all three months during the spring season ranked among the 10 warmest. The NOAA also reported that June’s average temperature for the contiguous United States of 71.2 degrees Fahrenheit contributed to a record-warm first half of the year and the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since 1895. To make matters worse, the nation experienced its 10th-driest June on record, with a nationally averaged precipitation of 2.27 inches, which is 0.62-inch below average.

Personally, we’ve had so little rain here in the Chicago area that I’ve mowed my lawn only once or twice during the entire summer. I’ve also scrapped my annual tradition of planting a garden, as well as postponed any plans of edging, tilling, and mulching the landscape beds until next spring, due to the excessive heat making yard work unbearable. However, watering my trees, shrubs and other plants has become nearly a daily routine with the hope of keeping everything alive.

Well, I hope that reading our cover story to see what your fellow dealers had to say gives you some solace. By the time you read this, I also hope that Mother Nature will have been much kinder to us all.

Best of luck the rest of 2012! Hang in there!

OPE Editor Steve Noe


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