Martin Sullivan dealership bullish on Deere in Galesburg

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With Deere's signature green implements on display on Friday, Galesburg's Martin Sullivan dealership knows all about farmers and the cyclical agriculture economy.

"The need for new equipment is something that they don't have to have right now," said Jim Haynes, Martin Sullivan COO.

This fourth generation family business is focusing on maintenance and used implement sales while farmers watch their wallets.

"In general, we don't have the funds," said Tommy Justison, 18, a third generation farmer from Hillsboro, Illinois.  "When the budget is tighter, you have to cut some of those high-priced items."

Martin Sullivan benefits from Deere's strategy for success.  That means keeping inventory low and preparing loyal customers for the turnaround.

"They're kind of watching to see what's going to happen," Haynes said.  "I think that's influencing a lot of the decision making."

Deere's farm equipment sales dropped 25% from a year ago during the second quarter.

The Moline-based manufacturer is prepared for the biggest downturn since the devastating 1980's farm crisis.

Despite the downturn, Deere still expects to make nearly $1.9 billion in profits this year.  That's up slightly from earlier projections.

Deere expects the company to be solidly profitable this year, with strong sales and earnings despite the pullback in the farm sector.

Deere credits sales of construction and forestry equipment for boosting its second quarter earnings.

Martin Sullivan is also posting double-digit increases in its turf and light construction equipment.

The Galesburg dealership plans to keep its 45 jobs in place, along with some 230 jobs at 12 other sites across Illinois.

While farming factors like weather, crop prices and the global economy are out of its control, the company remains bullish on the long term.

"The type of customers we deal with, the area we work in and the products that we're representing are all very strong, stable groups of businesses," Haynes concluded.

As farmers take to the fields in 2015 with their Deere equipment, it's a good endorsement for the future.