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McCombie Group buys majority stake in John Deere dealer

The agreement gives the firm exclusive rights to market and service the brand’s evolving agriculture and turf products throughout Delaware, eastern Maryland, and southeastern Pennsylvania.

McCombie Group, a private investment firm backed by family offices, and its financial partner SeamLev Investments have acquired a majority interest in Atlantic Tractor, a network of 11 John Deere equipment dealerships.

The agreement gives the firm exclusive rights to market and service the brand’s evolving agriculture and turf products throughout Delaware, eastern Maryland, and southeastern Pennsylvania.

“Consistent with McCombie Group’s family office roots, the investment is structured as a long-term, buy-and-hold strategy,” according to a company statement.

McCombie Group partner, Jay Lipsey, added: “We remain willing and able to entertain discussions with other dealership groups who might have an interest in exploring a sale or merger.”

Atlantic Tractor and its predecessor entities have been serving Mid-Atlantic farmers and homeowners for over 80 years, commanding nearly 50 percent market share within its territory.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with a great regional company that represents one of the most recognizable and respected brands in the world,” said David McCombie, CEO of McCombie Group.

John Deere has blamed a lull in sales and revenues on a softening agri market; the company saw a 21 percent decline in earnings, to $1.52 billion, and an 8 percent decline in revenues, to $26.6 billion, in fiscal year 2016.

In the agriculture and turf division — which benefits from sales of smaller tractors, mowers and turf equipment — sales fell 7 percent during that period, while operating profit edged up from $1.65 the previous year to $1.7 billion.  

However, during an equally subdued first quarter this year, the company forecast that sales of agriculture and turf equipment will increase by roughly 3 percent for fiscal-year 2017.

“John Deere has started out the year on a positive note in the continued face of soft market conditions,” said Samuel Allen, chairman and chief executive officer, in that report. “Although the quarter’s sales and earnings were somewhat lower than last year, all of our businesses remained solidly profitable.