Gene Waldron Explains Why He Chooses Challenger over John Deere Tractors
"God first, family second and farming third." These are words Mr. Gene Waldron (of Waldron Farms’ green peanut fame) lives by. He says, "It really is just that simple."
Waldron’s journey as a peanut farmer began fifty years ago. He quit school and went to work farming at the age of fifteen. He began with one hundred acres of peanut fields in 1959. He would sell these peanuts to the Jacksonville Farmers Market by way of a neighbor’s truck and a borrowed tank of gas. Waldron recalls, "My neighbor had a truck he said he’d sell me for sixty-five dollars. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll buy the truck, but can I borrow five dollars for gas?’" At fifteen, he then drove without a driver’s license from Citra, Florida up to Jacksonville to the Farmers Market. He did this for two weeks and the following Monday returned to his neighbor to repay him for the truck and the gas money. And that’s where it all began.
Fast-forward fifty years and Gene Waldron now farms 7,000 acres of peanuts across the state of Florida. He owns 3,200 acres near Citra and leases the remaining land farther south where he has a longer warm season for growing. Waldron Farms are particularly well known for their "green" peanut. The green peanut has reached its full maturation size, but is not allowed to completely dry out. This creates a taste that most peanut connoisseurs prefer. Green peanuts are also harder to come by; because they are not completely dried out and cured like dry-roasted peanut varieties they have a shorter shelf life. Most green peanuts are eventually boiled to become the southern road-side snack favorite "boiled peanuts". During Waldron’s busy months, they produce 5,000 bushels of green peanuts a day. Waldron sells these peanuts from as far south as Homestead, Florida, to as far north as Boston and Canada and all the way out to Texas.
The interesting thing about Gene Waldron is that he used to be a John Deere dealer. He owned Marion Tractor and then Green South with locations in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. So how did this John Deere aficionado become a Ring Power customer? Challenger tractors. Waldron has a fleet of thirty-six agricultural tractors. Of these, his favorite are the four Challengers he bought from Ring Power. The Challengers are his favorite for a very simple reason: they save him money. And a lot of it. Waldron said that he can run a Challenger MT575B with the same horsepower as his 7820 Deere machine for twice the amount of time on the same amount of fuel. Pulling the harrows, his Deere machines have to be refueled every day. Challenger tractors only need to be refueled every two days. The Challenger tractor saves him at least fifty gallons of fuel every day. That comes out to over $23,000 worth of savings per year for just one tractor alone. Waldron says, "The savings in fuel alone makes it worth it, but it’s the service that really makes the difference."
Waldron explains that every hour a tractor isn’t working, is an hour he’s not making money. He said Ring Power’s one hour field service turn around time makes all the difference in the world. Waldron explained, "Deere never once made it out here in under an hour, even when I owned the company!" Waldron can’t afford any down time, especially during harvesting season, and that is why he relies on Ring Power’s service department to be there at a moment’s notice to get him back up and running.
Of the thirty-two Deere tractors remaining in Waldron’s fleet, he plans to keep zero. Every single one will be traded in for the Challenger equivalent as soon as the warranties run out. Waldron could not be more pleased with his Challenger machines and is happy to tell anyone about it! More Challengers mean more peanuts!
For more information about Ring Power Corporation's Agriculture Division, please visit ringpowerag.com.