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Published April 04, 2011, 06:13 AM

Area equipment dealer assumes national post

Roger Gjellstad, a descendant of Norwegian immigrants and a fourth-generation North Dakota agriculturalist, has a new gig this year. He’s chairman of the North American Equipment Dealers Association. Gjellstad, who is involved in seven equipment dealerships in North Dakota and Montana, began the one-year position March 1.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Roger Gjellstad, a descendant of Norwegian immigrants and a fourth-generation North Dakota agriculturalist, has a new gig this year.

He’s chairman of the North American Equipment Dealers Association.

Gjellstad, who is involved in seven equipment dealerships in North Dakota and Montana, began the one-year position March 1.

“I’m just a strong advocate for agriculture. I love agriculture,” he says.

The North American group is affiliated with 18 state, regional and provincial equipment dealer associations. The 18 include the North Dakota Implement Dealers Association, the Minnesota-South Dakota Equipment Dealers Association and the Montana Equipment Dealers Association.

The North American group and its affiliates promote the interests of about 5,000 equipment dealers in the United States and Canada.

Gjellstad says the North American association keeps members informed of all federal regulations and policies via the state associations and also is involved with manufacturer relations on behalf of dealers.

Gjellstad, a past chairman of the North Dakota Implement Dealers Association, began representing North Dakota on the national board in 2006, later accepting the offer to become chairman.

Gjellstad, 60, grew up in Velva, N.D.., where he was active in FFA. After graduating from North Dakota State University in Fargo, he spent two years with the International Harvester district office in Fargo.

In 1974, he took a job at an implement dealership in Stanley, N.D.. Two years later, at age 25, he bought what is now Stanley Equipment. Today, Gjellstad manages the dealership with his son, Ryan.

Roger Gjellstad and partner Les Olson also manage Frontier Equipment in Williston, N.D.; Glascow (Mont.) Implement; and West Plains Inc., which has locations in the North Dakota cities of Dickinson, Beach, Bowman and Hettinger.

Gjellstad expects more ownership consolidation in equipment dealerships, in large part because selling used machinery is easier with multiple locations.

But he doesn’t anticipate a decline in the number of dealership locations.

“The locations are set,” he says.

‘As farmers go … ’

The North American Equipment Dealers Association would like to see a number of tax-law changes, Gjellstad says.

For example, the group wants farmers to be able to depreciate farm equipment over five years instead of seven. A shorter depreciation schedule would make buying farm equipment more attractive.

Equipment dealers, like most everyone else in agriculture, are interested in the 2012 farm bill, he says.

Farmers are telling dealers that the current farm bill works reasonably well, and so dealers want “a continuation of what we have,” he says.

However, dealers hope more can be added to the new farm bill: provisions that would give more help to beginning farmers, for instance, Gjellstad says.

Farmers in the region generally are in stronger shape finally than they were a few years ago, thanks to a run of good prices and yields, ag bankers and others say.

Area farm equipment dealers also are doing better financially, Gjellstad says

“As farmers go, we go, too,” he says.

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