Buhler relaunches Versatile tractor brand

A storied brand name in the Canadian farm tractor business is coming out from under other companies’ logos for the first time in about 20 years.

Winnipeg’s Buhler Industries, makers of the Buhler Versatile and Genesis tractor lines, announced last Thursday that Versatile will be the only brand associated with Buhler’s tractor division, which until now has sold Buhler Versatile tractors across North America and into the former Soviet Union.

Buhler, majority owned by Russian combine maker Rostselmash since last November, relaunched the Versatile brand and previewed its new Versatile models at a dealer meeting last Thursday in Winnipeg.

The relaunched brand comes with what company president Dmitry Lyubimov described as a completely new proposal for the brand’s dealers, including dealer financing options and delivery of parts for repair within 24 hours, all meant to achieve the company’s “aggressive targets” for sales.

Lyubimov and other company officials discussed rebranding, new products, new hires and organizational changes at Buhler’s tractor division at a meeting Oct. 29 with Canadian and U. S. farm media. The changes, he said, are more than cosmetic.

“We play in the big league, we want to act like a big-league player,” sales director Eric Allison told the meeting. The Versatile division, he said, has never had a financing plan, a service department manager, a parts manager

or a technical publications department – that is, until now.

The Versatile division has also recently brought back a number of employees who’d left the company, and has also hired “new, aggressive” employees on its road to doubling tractor production while maintaining the same quality of product, Lyubimov said.

“Ever ything I ’ve asked (Lyubimov) for in terms of staffing and budgets” has been granted, Allison said. “We’re putting together the staff here to go out and resurrect the Versatile name.”

The company also launched a new three-year/3,000-hour warranty for new Versatiles sold after Nov. 1, including the standard two-year/2,000-hour warranty plus an extra one-year/ 1,000-hour powertrain warranty covering components such as the engine, transmission, axles and differentials.

The flying V

For its relaunch last Thursday, Buhler “went back to the most recognized Versatile logo,” said advertising manager Adam Reid, referring to the company’s winged “V” symbol from the early 1980s.

The Genesis name, Reid said, is gone effective immediately.

This rebranding takes place globally, with Versatile set to replace the better-known Buhler name on its tractors sold overseas. Lyubimov said the decision to rebrand globally wasn’t taken lightly, given Versatile’s history.

The Versatile name has until now sat under Buhler’s on the company’s tractors, although more prominently than it did when the company was owned by Ford and later by New Holland (see sidebar).

“The name stands for well-built tractors that are powerful, simple and easy to maintain,” Lyubimov said in a release last Thursday. “It is the same philosophy we use today and we are proud of that heritage.”

That said, the rebranding won’t affect Buhler’s other ag equipment divisions, which will continue to build Allied, Farm King and Inland equipment.

New models

At its relaunch, Buhler Versatile (which will remain the legal name of the division) unveiled the new Versatile 250 and 280 models, which go to market in early 2009 and replace the Buhler Genesis 2180 and 2210. Both models will be powered by Cummins QSC 8.3-litre engines, providing 250 and 280 engine horsepower and 200 and 225 PTO horsepower respectively.

The Cummins engines replace the European-built 7.5-litre Genesis engines, as part of an expanded partnership between Cummins and Versatile. Cummins already provides the 11-litre QSM and 15-litre QSX models that power Versatile’s 4-WD models.

Versatile is working with Cummins to meet new Tier 4 emission standards that take effect in 2011, according to Buhler chief operating officer Grant Adolph. Tier 4 will mean a larger cooling package and other engine features that will inarguably cost more; thus, tractor makers, Versatile included, are unlikely to adopt all the Tier 4 requirements before they have to.

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Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Writer and editor. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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