Tom Kelsey is proud to be working with a team he can "Billieve" in.
The co-owner of Z&M Ag and Turf, formerly Zahm and Matson, is the authorized John Deere dealer for Western New York. The business provides machinery to the Buffalo Bills for its training camp facility at St. John Fisher College and during the regular season at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Z&M has sent 11 John Deere Gators - all-terrain utility vehicles - that will be used for everything from daily operations to media relations to carrying equipment and injured players.
Z&M has been providing the equipment to the stadium for 21 years and to training camp for more than 15 years. Kelsey said the relationship started by watching a Monday Night Football game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. He said he saw the groundskeeper for the Chiefs using John Deere equipment on the field. Kelsey thought why not provide the same equipment to the Bills.
A tractor-trailer full of Z&M John Deere equipment leaves for St. John Fisher College in Pittsford where Buffalo Bills training camp is being held.
"I made some phone calls to see if they were interested," he said. "The guy I spoke to said the team was probably interested ... and gave a long list of items needed. So I went ahead and carved out an agreement to provide them with commercial mowing equipment for outside the stadium, an (all-things-mobile) vehicle and a couple tractors for cleaning snow off Astroturf."
Kelsey, who is a lifelong Bills fan, said the team is a great organization with which to do business.
"It is pretty fulfilling in terms of being part of the team. It makes you feel closer to the community to be part of an organization that is so important to Western New York," he said. "Maintaining a loyal relationship for a number of years is a neat feeling."
There have been some perks along the way for Kelsey. He said he has had the pleasure of knowing some of the greats to put on a Bills uniform - including Phil Hansen, Jim Kelly, Pete Metzelaars and Steve Tasker. Also, he went to two of the Super Bowls the Bills participated in from 1991 to 1994.
"I will always remember 'Wide Right,'" he said. "Certainly it was a great experience to be part of that era of Bills history. I had the pleasure to get to know a number of the guys during that era of success."
Kelsey said after the Bills staff gets done using the equipment it goes back to Z&M and is sold at a discounted price. The business has seven locations in the area - Alexander, Clymer, Falconer, North Collins, Oakfield, Springville in New York, and Edinboro, Pa. For more information, go to zahmandmatson.com.