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Published November 07, 2011, 05:26 AM

ND dealer closes doors after nearly 45 years

RICHARDTON, N.D. — Wally Wald, one of southwest North Dakota’s longest-active farm equipment dealers, is closing the doors. Wald, 78, who lives in Dickinson, N.D., held an implement dealership auction Oct. 29 that was the end of the line for Richardton (N.D.) Farm Equipment Inc. The business was started by previous owners John Erdle and Ralph Messer in fall 1957. Wald had worked for Erdle and Messer for 10 years and in July 1977 bought the business with partners Chuck Forster and Glenn Hochhalter.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

RICHARDTON, N.D. — Wally Wald, one of southwest North Dakota’s longest-active farm equipment dealers, is closing the doors.

Wald, 78, who lives in Dickinson, N.D., held an implement dealership auction Oct. 29 that was the end of the line for Richardton (N.D.) Farm Equipment Inc. The business was started by previous owners John Erdle and Ralph Messer in fall 1957. Wald had worked for Erdle and Messer for 10 years and in July 1977 bought the business with partners Chuck Forster and Glenn Hochhalter.

The business peaked with 24 employees in the early 1990s, when they had both New Holland and John Deere lines. In 2002, the company gave up its main lines — John Deere, Versatile and Ford. Wald became the sole owner and changed to consigning used equipment. He also sold grain carts, Loftness grain handling equipment and grain bags. The auction sale included about 100 items and was “very successful,” he says. G&G Auction Service of Hebron, N.D., did the honors.

“But I was at this dealership 44 years and nine months,” Wald says. “I was 34 years old when I started here. My wife, Betty, and I were in the grocery business before this, so we were in the retail business for 52 years. I was diagnosed with cancer last February and the doctor told me to quit,” he says.

Growing more rare

Wald says he enjoyed the business through the years, but decided not to sell it.

“The business is closed down now, and it’s just another business door in a small town that went out of business. It’s too hard to get different lines of implements into these small towns. It’s difficult to get help.”

Like farms themselves, there are fewer and more comprehensive dealerships today, and business is substantial. Annual total retail sales of new and used farm machinery and repair parts in North Dakota is more than $500 million, says Matt C. Larsgaard, executive vice president of the North Dakota Implement Dealers Association. More than 3,120 people statewide are employed by retail farm equipment dealerships.

Larsgaard couldn’t immediately say whether Wald’s service to the industry is the longest in the state.

“Many of our dealerships have owners who have been in the farm equipment industry for many years,” Larsgaard says. “In fact, we also have several who are second- or third- generation dealers.”

There are about 125 dealerships that are members of the association. The organization’s membership penetration is an impressive 98 percent and has been for many years, Larsgaard says.

“This statistic really exemplifies the dealers’ commitment to addressing industry wide issues and opportunities as a strong, united group,” Larsgaard says.

The group will hold its annual meeting Nov. 14 to 16 in Bismarck, N.D.

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