Bartering Provides a Win-Win Partnership for Historic House Museum

Strategy: Balance Your Budget, Be Creative (More with Less), Collaborate in New Ways

Type of attraction: Museum/Historic Site

Summary: Keeping 1,000 acres mowed, weeded and cultivated at The Hermitage, the historic home of President Andrew Jackson near Nashville, Tennessee, always generated big expenses.

Keeping 1,000 acres mowed, weeded and cultivated at The Hermitage, the historic home of President Andrew Jackson near Nashville, Tennessee, always generated big expenses to purchase and maintain farming and landscape equipment. The Ladies’ Hermitage Association, which has managed the site since 1889, felt the stress of these expenses even in good economic times, but when the economy took a downturn in 2008 the challenge of proper maintenance increased.

At that point, good fortune stepped in. “TriGreen Equipment is the John Deere dealership for Central Tennessee,” says Howard Kittell, president and CEO. “At the beginning of 2009, they wanted to rent the front field on the property for their annual Spring Power Expo equipment show.

Kittell says that staff and board members knew that companies that often did not have cash to donate would be open to bartering. “We had pressing equipment needs for mowers, tractors and other equipment,” Kittell says. “We told the managers at TriGreen that we would provide free rent for three years for their event if they would provide us with equipment for that period of time.”

TriGreen managers agreed, and the result has been a partnership that benefits the nonprofit historic site and the for profit company.

“Each summer they bring us mowers and tractors,” Kittell says. “For our special events they bring wagons to transport visitors and utility vehicles so our staff can get around the property easily when managing an event.  At end of season, they take back the equipment, and the next year they bring new ones. We also let them film commercials on the property which helps both of us. It has been a great partnership, and we hope they will renew for three more years.”

For more information, visit www.thehermitage.com.