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Published April 22, 2013, 10:49 AM

Saying goodbye

A 23-year old farm equipment dealer in Williston, N.D. is closing in May, partly due to the effects of the N.D. oil boom.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

Lindsey Implement Inc., a 23-year-old farm equipment dealership in Williston, N.D., is closing next month — partly because of the oil boom, partly because of competition from multi-location dealer networks.

Owner Gary Lindsey, 57, started the company in March 1990, at the end of the last oil boom, and now he’s closing his doors on May 15. He made the decision about a month ago.

No liquidation sale has been scheduled, but he has some of his tractors listed on TractorHouse.com and held an auction April 17.

Lindsey says one of the reasons he decided to quit was an inability to hire a sales person to replace a salesman who had retired a year ago.

“It’s impossible to find anybody for ag sales,” he says. “I’ve sold on my own for a year. I advertised and interviewed quite a few people but there wasn’t anybody qualified — I was getting people who knew absolutely nothing about agriculture or had no place to live. I gave up trying to find someone and did it on my own.”

He says the jobs in the oil industry pay too well, and farming has been good enough so people want to stay in that business. He doesn’t know what his plans are, but acknowledges there have been a lot of opportunities.

In 1990, Lindsey and his wife, Janette, owned an Allis-Chalmers dealership and started Lindsey Implement.

“Everything (in the ag economy) was down because it was all dried up around here. I basically decided that it couldn’t get any worse: it’s got to go up from here,” Lindsey says. “When I started here, it was just a lot with a building that was sitting vacant from the last oil boom.”

Lindsey became one of the nation’s top volume Gleaners dealers for many years —sometimes the top dealer in North America. Lindsey Implement grossed roughly $15 million in sales a year and has sold equipment in a 150-mile radius.

One of the challenges came when the company let Case New Holland into the Hesston line, he says. He remembers the short-lived Same brand tractors from Italy, with challenging resale values. He remembers the shift to orange tractors, and back to Massey red.

Manufacturing companies today want multi-dealer locations. “They want one owner with probably 10 stores,” Lindsey says. “I had an opportunity, probably, to expand. But the cost was prohibitive. It’s either go big or go home.”

‘Wrenching feeling’

Lindsey had an opportunity to sell the land his dealership is on, on Highway 2, on the west edge of Williston. He says he might have built another dealership, but declined the risk.

The company that has bought his 7.5 acres will use the land for a couple of motel projects, he says.

“It’s kind of a wrenching kind of feeling in your gut,” Lindsey says. “You feel obligated to your customers to make sure they’re taken care of.”

The company has had 11 to 13 employees since about 1995. He says his employees have “quite a few opportunities,” including options at other dealers.

Lindsey Implement was honored by the North Dakota Department of Human Services Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in February. The company was a regional 2012 Employer of the Year for its “work to support and inspire individuals with disabilities in the workplace” and had consistently employed people with disabilities through the VR’s Supported Employment Program for 18 years.

Lindsey was a long-time member of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce, a past member of the Upper Missouri Valley Fair Board and was the president of the Blacktail Dam Association.

He also has been a member of the Pheasants Forever and The Classic Car Club in Williston and Crosby, N.D. The dealership was a sponsor of the Hard Spring Wheat Show and was actively involved in local agricultural shows.

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