Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Genex Vans Feature Form and Function

I have heard lots of comments about the new Genex vans, so I decided it was time to spend some time with Genex Territory Sales Manager (TSM), Chris Kinnard, to find out first-hand what all of the talk was about.  Chris was one of the first to change from a Ford F-350 diesel truck to the new Dodge® ProMaster van. He has been using it since June for his daily sales routes.

When I jumped into the passenger seat on the rainy, cold October day, the first thing that struck me was the amount of visibility afforded the driver and passenger. One sits up higher than in a truck, and the angle of the windshield and front end of the van make for excellent range of vision. Did I mention it was a windy day, near Lake Michigan? I was a little worried about how the higher profile vehicle would handle in all of the wind, and while I was not the one driving, it seemed to be about the same as the car I drove to meet Chris in.

While I am on the topic of appearance, it must be noted that if you see one of these new vans, you will certainly not miss it. Its colors, graphics and photos are indicative of Genex and the business we are in. It is also advantageous that the wrap can be removed when we are ready to resell the vans making them a blank canvas, and thus more attractive, to a perspective buyer.

Function is another big plus for the new vans. I have watched TSMs work inside of the trucks. They always had a stool to sit on as there was not enough room to stand and work. Products were an afterthought and tucked away wherever they seemed to fit among the semen tanks, and having a nice area to write out orders and receipts wasn't even considered.

TSM Tim Lynch sits on a stool to fill orders in the old style truck.

When Chris opened the new van door, I could see all of those problems had been addressed. Shelving on both sides of the back made product display easy and tidy. Members and customers can now see what products they might have been missing in their herd management program. In one of the shelving units is an area that can be used as an office or desk to allow for completion and organization of paperwork. Catalogs and flyers are neatly displayed in another shelf towards the door. Space also abounds for informational posters, sales flyers, customer features, etc.

TSM Chris Kinnard fills orders with plenty of space to move in his new van.

So now it’s time to talk money. In information from Chuck Dallas, Vice President of Diversified Programs, Services and Process Management for CRI, the Ford F-350 diesel trucks with the utility boxes on the back cost approximately $10,000 more than the Dodge ProMaster vans. In addition, the vans use gasoline which is cheaper than diesel, and they will realize an improvement of about four to six miles per gallon in fuel consumption. All of this fiscal responsibility sounds great to me, as our farm recently became Genex Cooperative members!

The one concern many have of the vans will soon get its test. How will they handle on winter roads? Living in Wisconsin, I’m pretty sure I won’t have to wait all that long to see and hear the answer to that question. I’ll keep you posted!

While I can certainly relate to the drivers’ love for their trucks (In high school, I used to cut deals with my Dad to do extra barn chores so I could take his new truck when I went out), after spending the day on a route with Chris, I can see why the decision was made to convert our sales fleet. As additional vans get on the road, they should prove to be more economical and functional for the cooperative as well as the TSMs that drive them.

Author Brenda Brady is our Communications Specialist.  Brenda graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a degree in Agricultural Education.  She went on to teach high school agriculture for 13 years. Brenda grew up on a small Registered Holstein farm in central Wisconsin and now farms with her husband and in-laws. They recently started a show herd for their children by purchasing a Registered Jersey calf.