Dustin Fussnecker: 2022 40 Under 40 Award-Winner

Our 2022 40 Under 40 Awards featured young OPE leaders from across the country. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll highlight several of our 2022 award-winners here. Our winners were chosen not only for their numerous accomplishments and individual strengths, but also for their passion for their dealerships and outdoor power equipment – and the promise they bring for the future of our industry. Of course, you can check out the entire 40 Under 40 roster in our May/June issue.

DUSTIN FUSSNECKER

Owner, Fussnecker & Sons Tractor Sales, LLC – Ripley and Peebles, Ohio

As with many other OPE dealerships, Fussnecker & Sons Tractor Sales is currently experiencing some growing pains: “We are lacking in the number of staff we have to wait on customers, we don’t have enough service techs in our shop, and we’re unsure of how we are going to bridge those gaps,” says Dustin Fussnecker.

Dustin Fussnecker and family.

In the outdoor power equipment industry for more than a decade – he opened his first location when he was 19 years old, and his second at the ripe old age of 28 – Dustin says he realizes that “as we grow in the volume of business we do, these gaps are going to get larger, and make us more vulnerable to our current competition and to future competitors.”

To fill personnel gaps, he has found that workers from outside the industry are often the ideal solution. “I’m constantly trying to turn over stones, looking for the right candidate for a future or current position,” he says. “This lack of a work force isn’t going away. Our school systems have pumped so many graduates into the ‘college-degree-get-a-job’ scheme that they have shorted the trade industry of the talent necessary to sustain the future growth of the ag, construction and OPE industries. It’s becoming an employer’s responsibility to seek out individuals serving in other fields and funnel them back to the equipment industry.

“As I see it,” he continues, “you either have to poach employees from your competition, foster youth through high-school/vocation-school programs or look outside the box and recruit from other industries. I’m finding more success in the latter. It’s easy to offer your competitor’s employees more money to jump ship and join your team [but] I find that this is a short-term solution – those guys usually grow complacent and leave when another offer presents itself. I’ve had those employees; they got me by, but I’m looking for longer-term solutions.”

Dustin puts a strong emphasis on business culture, customer culture and employee culture at Fussnecker & Sons. “I try to be encouraging to my staff. I try to look outside the box when encountering issues. I find that employers sometimes hire the right people for the wrong job, and it’s sometimes necessary to reevaluate what role an employee does for your company – and decide if instead of letting them go, you find another role within the company that they can serve.

“Likewise, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your ‘rock star’ employees,” he continues. “These guys can become burned out or overwhelmed by expectations that become too high due to their performance and past results. Sometimes, you may need to make a painful decision to move these guys to different roles before they end up leaving the company, looking for a change that you didn’t offer because you, as a business owner, may have been distracted by other pursuits in the dealership. It happens to the best of us.”

Speaking of other pursuits: Dustin purchased the dealership’s second store last year and then embarked on a remodeling of that facility. “This location … serves as a satellite store for our business and allows us to reach a larger market that we hadn’t been getting the opportunity to serve prior. The remodel lasted 10 months and yielded a facility that our company and the local community are proud of. It really uplifted our brand image amongst the locals, seeing us take a tired building that was on Main Street and give it a facelift and making it into a much nicer and larger facility than the previous building we had occupied. Social media this past year was abuzz as we posted pictures with updates to what we were accomplishing. It really made the investment more rewarding.”

Fussnecker & Sons represents various industry brands, including Ariens/Gravely, The Toro Company, Grasshopper Mowers, Stihl, Echo and the Agco line of Massey-Ferguson subcompact and compact tractors. The company has eight employees, including Dustin’s wife, Jackie, who serves as its accountant and helps in the parts and sales department.

FUSSNECKER & SONS
www.fussneckers.com

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