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Q&A: Todd Stucke, Vice President at Kubota
Since Kubota came to the U.S. in 1972, the Japanese-based company has been known for quality products that serve small farms and acreage owners. Today, to find the greatest concentration of Kubota dealers and products, simply draw a horseshoe on a U.S. map from the Pacific Northwest down through Texas and up to Pennsylvania – that’s where the majority of this core audience lives.
Kubota plans to expand its customer base to include row-crop and livestock farmers in the central U.S. To make that vision a reality, Kubota is transforming with new product lines, added dealer support, and improved logistics and corporate structure to better meet the needs of Midwest farmers.
In 2013, Todd Stucke joined Kubota to develop strategies and action plans for entering these new markets. Since he joined, Kubota has launched its highest-horsepower tractors, the M7 Series; added multiple lines of hay tools; introduced the company’s first skid steer; extended its UTV line with a crossover machine; and purchased Great Plains.
SF: How do you evaluate and decide which market segments to enter?
TS: One method of entering new markets is through product extensions. The M7 Series is a good example where we broadened our product portfolio into larger chassis sizes, allowing Kubota to compete in a different class of tractor that met higher horsepower customer needs.
Another strategy we utilize to enter new markets is acquisition. Kubota purchased Kverneland in Europe and brought its hay tool products under the Kubota umbrella before introducing Kubota manufactured hay tools. In 2017, the company completed an acquisition of Great Plains Manufacturing to expand on our already successful partnership with Land Pride implements.
Regardless of whether it is product extensions or acquisitions, our evaluation of strategic moves always starts with the customer at the forefront. We look to extend our product lines if we are confident that we can deliver value to the segment and that our dealers can successfully support the business.
SF: How do you ensure that dealers can support new products?
TS: For dealers to sell and support new products, we have to work closely together to ensure the proper training of dealership staff, the availability of products and parts, and the sufficient infrastructure is in place.
SF: What steps does Kubota take before a product launch to ensure a high-quality product?
TS: We are an engineering-driven company with comprehensive product release protocols. We test products in a multitude of environments – both in the lab and in the field.
We’ve been known to delay product launches because of any issue. We don’t release it unless it is right. Our reputation has been built on producing expertly engineered products that deliver performance, reliability, and true value to our customers. We are committed to do what it takes to live up to that promise.
SF: What other major changes has Kubota made to be better equipped to serve Midwest farmers?
TS: The diversity of this region demands local attention, so one major change Kubota is making to support the farming community is adding a fifth divisional office in the Midwest. This new division allows us to focus on the local needs of our customers and dealers in the Midwest, because we’ve been adding dealers there.
This past year, we also moved our U.S. headquarters from Torrance, California, to Grapevine, Texas, to be closer to our customers and our dealers.
Name: Todd Stucke
Title: Senior vice president of marketing, product support, and strategic projects at Kubota
Background: Stucke grew up on a potato farm in St. Henry, Ohio. Today, Stucke and his brother, Dave, co-own a corn and soybean farm, with Stucke overseeing the books and Dave managing the day-to-day operations. Before joining Kubota, Stucke worked at AGCO for 23 years.