The Challenger MT555D: New Tractor, New Era

This young farmer takes a chance on Challenger and the payoff was even more than he hoped.

By Boyce Upholt | Photos By Boyce Upholt

When Steve Batdorf arrived at Armstrong Farms pitching an MT555D tractor, he knew it would be a tough sell. The family had never bought a Challenger, after all, and they liked to buy their equipment used. But Batdorf, a salesman from Ohio Ag Equipment in Washington Court House, Ohio, encountered the farm’s fresh, young procurement manager, Andrew Armstrong, the son of the operation’s owners, Allen and Amy Armstrong.

Andrew, who had just graduated from college, was open to looking at new brands. And he was impressed with what he saw—especially since he knew the farm needed a lower-horsepower tractor for tasks such as sidedressing corn.

After he talked it over with his “board of advisers,” as Andrew sometimes calls his parents, he decided not to purchase the tractor for the farm. He bought it for himself, instead.

Andrew started farming on his own just under a decade ago on a 20-acre hay field given to him by his parents. He had mowed it with borrowed equipment—with a quad shift and a sometimes bumpy ride. That rough ride got him thinking about Challenger’s continuously variable transmission (CVT), which he says offers clean, smooth performance at every speed, while the suspended cab provides the comfort he’d only experienced in much larger tractors. “It was almost like taking one of the big, nice tractors that Dad has and making it compact for my usage,” Andrew says. And, though it was a new tractor, Andrew could not find matching performance at the selling price.

Then there was the tractor’s technology and flexibility. Andrew appreciates the tractor management system, which allows him to pre-program custom settings he needs for sidedressing or for mowing his hay. But if his father needs to borrow the tractor, he can revert the settings so that it runs, as Andrew jokingly says, “old and simplistic.”

The elder Armstrong was wowed by Ohio Ag’s dealings with Andrew. This was his son’s deal—Andrew saw it as his first big career move as a farmer—but, of course, Allen watched over his shoulder. Allen saw that the dealership took his son’s questions seriously, and that they walked him carefully through his first-ever tractor warranty. “They did everything right,” Allen says. “I can’t say enough good things about Ohio Ag.”