Steiger Tricks at the Farm Progress Show

How a Small Company Outsmarted the Big Boys
post by
Lee Klancher
Media Name: steiger.71_ko.jpg
It's Farm Progress Show Season and we're celebrating with posts from our history vaults about the show!
In this story, marketing wizard Syl Melroe explains how Stieger Tractor found a way around the rules limiting how many tractors could be working on the grounds at Farm Progress: 

“John Deere could only have two tractors there: or International or Case or whoever, you got to have two tractors," Melroe said. "So about the first or second year I was there, I called all the short-line manufacturers: Wil-Rich, [Kuhn} Krause, Green Line, and DMI.

‘You guys going to the farm progress show?’
‘Oh yeah.’
‘You going to have something there?’
‘Yeah, we're going to have our big disc there’ or big whatever, see?
‘What are you going to pull it with?’
‘Well, I don't know.’
‘How would you like a Steiger tractor?’
“We'd end up with eight or nine Steiger tractors at the farm progress show. We weren't demonstrating Steiger tractors, we were demonstrating cultivators and discs. This used to drive John Deere people just absolutely crazy. There was about 80 acres of farm machinery there. And then they'd have all these fields that they'd let you plow and harvest and stuff. Then there was a field where everybody would line up their stuff at night.
“Here's two John Deeres, two International, whatever, and there was eight Steigers. But we didn't take new tractors – we'd find the farmers in the area and I'd get the dealer and say, ‘We need –.’ Sometimes we'd bring one or two from the factory, depending on what was going on, but most of them were farmer tractors.
‘Farmer Jones, you want to drive your tractor to the farm progress?’
‘Oh yeah, yeah.’ That's a big deal, see?
‘Get it cleaned up and paint it or shine [it] up.’
“Then I would take them to dinner on Monday night and buy them a few drinks and big steak and tell them how wonderful they are. Then I'd say, ‘When you go out there tomorrow I want you to drive that tractor like it's your field.’
“I remember one year a guy had about a 54-foot Wil-Rich cultivator. He went out and opened those wings, he put it in that corner. My God, you'd have had to go over there with a jack to move it a half inch to get it any better. He sat that thing in there just absolutely perfect, like, ‘How did you do that?’ I'll never forget that. He started off and had the cultivator and the cultivator was just going smooth, just did a nice job.
“I'd go out there every once in a while and just kind of take my jacket off or whatever, they didn’t know who I was, and just kind of backed into the farmers to see what they were saying. Pretty interesting to do!"