Grossenburg Implement expands
for Tri-State Livestock News
How can I make the most from this trip? This practical question was one that Charles Jacob Grossenburg asked himself in the mid 1930s when he was hauling cattle and hogs to market in Sioux Falls and Omaha Nebraska from his home near Winner, South Dakota.
His answer? Haul hogs and cattle to the eastern corner of South Dakota and haul two-cylinder John Deere tractors back to famers and ranchers in his area.
What began as a profitable arrangement, would continue to grow throughout four generations and over 80 years into an implement dealership with eight thriving locations.
Grossenburg Implement, officially founded in 1937 by C.J. Grossenburg in Winner, serves people in the agriculture at their locations in Winner, Pierre, Philip, Wayne NE, Hartington NE, Bloomfield NE.
Most recently, the company has expanded their business to dealerships in both Belle Fourche, SD and Sundance, WY.
“Belle Fourche and Sundance fit us well…we’ll get along just fine out there,” Barry Grossenburg, third generation and president of the company reported.
Barry’s son and fourth generation CEO of the company, Charlie Grossenburg, explained that Grossenburg implement was approached by the Belle Fourche implement owner and by the Sundance owner who gave Grossenburg “the first shot” at taking over ownership of their dealerships.
Barry said that transitions like this can be “pretty emotional,” but with both Sundance and Belle Fourche the two implements were able to “come to an agreement.”
Barry went on to say that he is excited for the employees at the new locations to join the Grossenburg team.
“They’re great employees—we need them, and we want them!” he stated.
This fourth-generation dealership cares about their combined 250 employees. In 1972 they set up a profit-sharing program for employees, so for every sale, 10% goes to the employees.
Another core piece of Grossenburg identity is service as well as sales. Charlie has noticed that “folks are keeping their equipment longer, so we touch it more on the service side with some customers.”
“We’ve been a big believer in the service side—service is the other half of a great product,” said Charlie.
Along with having servicing facilities at their locations, they also have service trucks and an internal trucking system between the South Dakota and Nebraska locations.
With their expansion to Sundance and Belle Fourche, Grossenburg Implement is looking to boost the service departments in those two locations.
“People’s time is important, and if we can keep them going, they’re going to look to buy green and yellow,” Charlie explained.
Whether it is parts or a specific tractor that came in as a trade in, all of the Grossenburg locations work together to find and get what the customer is looking for to them.
“Our size allows us drum up what someone is looking for,” Charlie said.
C.J. Grossenburg first came in Tripp County in 1908 and began working for his uncle. He later bought two quarters in Winner where he and his wife, Blanche, fed around 300 fattened cattle and employed 10 hired hands.
Taking cattle to market was a long two-day trip which prompted C.J. to look for ways to make the journey more worthwhile.
He hauled his first tractor from Sioux City back to Colome. Originally he founded his implement in Colome in 1937, but he moved the company to Winner when the owner of the dealership there sold out to him.
C.J. moved the company into an old lumberyard and continued to expand there until 1960 when they built a new building that they currently operate out of.
In 1950, C.J.’s son Gene became a full partner. His daughter Norma also worked in the office as a part of the business. In 1978, Gene’s son Barry partnered in the company, and in 2006 Barry’s son Charlie, named after his great-grandfather, became the fourth generation to partner in the dealership.
Currently Barry serves as the company’s president and Charlie works as the CEO, but that doesn’t mean Gene is out of the picture. According to Charlie, at 89 Gene still gets up and comes into the Winner location in the mornings.
One unique aspect of the business is the way that it is passed down: “We didn’t buy anybody out, we just gave it down the generations,” Barry explained.
Throughout the generations Grossenburg Implement continued to grow within its Winner location. According to Barry, “C.J. got us started, but Gene got us going.”
“We’ve always been a large dealer, but in 2005 John Deere said to get bigger and to grow and expand,” Barry said.
This push from green and gold headquarters led the company to purchase implements in Pierre and Phillip in 2007, and to expand into their three Nebraska locations in 2012 which are covered by Barry’s son-in-law Adam Severson.
All of the Grossenburg locations work together and Barry explained that they have weekly meetings so that “every salesman knows exactly what we have at each site and what its worth.”
Throughout their years as a company the Grossenburgs’ have seen a variety of high and low agricultural markets, which they have been able to withstand.
“The lows make you a better business and the highs make you more money,” Barry stated.
As far as sales and markets this year go, Charlie explained that, “There is a certain dollar amount of equipment that still selling with the hay crop we’re seeing. High dollar farming equipment is challenging, but we just have to be creative with financing and leasing options.”
Looking forward, the Grossenburgs say that they’re excited about expanding to their two new western locations this year and to continuing to serve their customers, and take care of their employees.
“You don’t see many [multi generation family businesses]. My top priority is to make sure that we have a very solid business foundation for generations to come,” Charlie stated. F