President Tim Whitley Speaks About His Vision for Digital Marketing in Agriculture and Equipment

Written by Tim Whitley on Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Since 2010, I have been building one of the largest digital media firms in the state of Arkansas.  Team SI has quickly become an authority in digital marketing, not just in Arkansas but all over the country. We have developed over 156 digital media roadmaps for clients all over the country. That being said, I need to explain why we are now growing in the field of agriculture. More than 20 people at Team SI have helped me engineer my newest adventure in helping farmers and equipment dealers create a better experience in the online world.

This may surprise many people, but I actually grew up on a small farm in Rule, Texas.  My grandparents and uncles were all farmers.  Countless weekends and summers, I spent my time in Rule “helping” to farm; ok, mostly complaining about the hard work, early mornings and late evenings. I knew I was never going to be a farmer, but the love and respect of farming would help me develop into the man I am today.

While farming cotton and peanuts and raising cattle and pigs, I found out that hard work does pay off along with the fundamental entrepreneur mindset. I will never forget being dragged out of bed by my grandfather at 4 a.m. to go move water pipeline. I figured after we did that, it was time to take a nap; yet, I never received a nap. It was on to the next thing: feeding animals, hoeing the fields, plowing, etc.

I finally found an easy way out, cling to my grandmother. The problem with that was she was as hard of a worker as any “farmer” because she was a farmer.  She made sure breakfast was made at 4 a.m., lunch was brought to multiple fields and all errands taken care.  She never slowed down. For example, her idea of a stress-relief was getting on her riding lawnmower to mow over an acre of land. My grandparents were an inspiration in defining hard work.

Before my grandfather passed away in 2014, I told him in late 2013 that I was going to do something big to help farmers and dealers on a national level.  He basically told me to not screw it up. “Yes sir.”

In early 2010, I had an idea to ‘Invent the Future’ with one of the largest John Deere dealers in the country, Greenway Equipment, Inc. I knew where to begin with my knowledge, but I needed help to figure out farmers wanted to see as an evolution with its dealer relationships. I reached out to the current farmers in my family from early 30s to late 60s, the mission was to discover what was missing to help them be successful. One of the most resounding topics had to do with research online. My family of farmers knew how to research their next farm trucks, but very little research was available when needing information on equipment, seed, spray, commodities, service, parts, etc.

It was amazing to me that farmers now have access to technology inside of the cabs of their tractors that will drive themselves and collect data on what they are harvesting. This information is directly tied into their iPad and iPhones. Farmers were more technologically sound than any other 45+ male but yet the stigmatism is that they are “behind the times”. To me, that is an insult, especially being raised on a farm. Being raised on a farm quickly taught me how to embrace technology to better run the farm.

Knowing all of this, Team SI & Greenway Equipment, Inc. launched a new website that provided research, new and used equipment listings, service, parts, video, weather, commodities, etc. Rick Borman, Sr. Vice President of Greenway, had an idea to create a portal on the site that only Greenway’s customers could access.  This portal included special material, videos and promotions for its current customer base. From 2011-2015, we continued to evolve the platform as technology changed. We innovated because our consumers visiting the website were demanding more. Greenway was getting traffic from California to Maine. Why? Because Greenway was the only one providing the resources that farmers were demanding.

When my grandfather passed away, I went to his house to grab some of the belongings that meant the most to me. I grabbed a picture of the two of us when I was a small kiddo and multiple John Deere items he collected over the years, from a toy tractor to a clock. He was a passionate farmer, and I know he would be proud of what we are doing with dealers all across the country by providing this valuable information to the farmers who are demanding it.

I now hold onto my Grandmother’s bible and farming material from my Grandmother. Besides their kids, grandkids and great grandkids, nothing meant more to them than religion and farming. I now hold on to these items to ensure that I will never forget those fundamental values.

I miss the farm I grew up on, and I miss my grandparents more than anything. However, my new company brings me closer to the industry and gives me a sense of being right back in Rule moving pipe, but this time smiling and proud that I am helping an industry to innovate. 

Find out more about how Team SI can bring digital roadmap to your equipment business.

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