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Published May 19, 2009, 12:00 AM

Lind: Readers recall Surge of dairy memories

A Surge dairy equipment franchise saved Ben Ansley’s business.

By: Bob Lind, INFORUM

A Surge dairy equipment franchise saved Ben Ansley’s business.

So says Ben’s son Brad Ansley, who responded to earlier stories here about the Ansley Co. of Fargo.

Several people had written in about Ben and his employees who installed and serviced Surge equipment on their farms.

Brad, now of Escondido, Calif., writes that his father started the business in 1937 as the Rural Electric co., selling electric power plants and wind chargers to farmers. But when he picked up the Surge franchise in 1938, well, that ended up saving the business, Brad says.

It held up during World War II because farming was considered critical to the war effort, so milking equipment was readily available even when most everything else was rationed.

After the war, Ben hired and trained returning servicemen and expanded, setting up stores in Detroit Lakes, Ada, Twin Valley and Breckenridge, Minn.; and Valley City and Lisbon, N.D.

Eventually the company expanded into feedlot equipment, changed its name to Ansley Dairy Equipment and moved from Fargo to West Fargo.

Brad took over the business in the 1960s, allowing his parents to work with him but to go south during the winter. They retired in the 1970s and moved to San Marcos, Calif. Brad’s mother, Lyla, died in 1983, and Ben died in 2003.

The business was moved to Mandan, N.D., in the 1960s, incorporated as Ansley Inc., and expanded into a ranch and supply store and a dealer in animal health products.

The dairy equipment part of the business was sold to an employee in 1986, the animal health distributorship also was sold, and the ranch and supply business closed.

Brad then moved to Escondido, where he started a building supply company.

Brad says he now is semi-retired, but he and his wife “still enjoy returning to our roots each summer (to) enjoy the North Dakota lifestyle we miss in California.”

Their son Rob is clerk of the federal court in Bismarck.

Mike Rude of Cambridge, Minn., writes that his father, Defloren Rude, was one of the original salesmen for Ansley out of Ada. He sold Surge equipment from 1947 to 1953. He also sold Massey Harris farm equipment in Ada from 1954 to 1960.

Defloren, 88, and his wife, who now live near Gary, Minn., recalls that when REA came in, the electricity often went to the barns before the houses.

Well, sure; what’s more important on a farm than the barn?

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail