Laufer Vermeer a family affair

Matthew J. Trask
for Tri-State Livestock News
Bev and Stan Laufer went from being farmers and ranchers to being one of the regions most appreciated summertime businesses. Laufer Vermeer services equipment from hundreds of miles around their rural Hettinger, N.D., place. Courtesy photo

Like many farm and ranch families, they got into their secondary business to save a little money.

Bev Laufer doesn’t remember exactly why they chose Vermeer, but it may have been because they could become dealers. It may also have been because the Vermeer 605F round baler they purchased was good. Stan Laufer says they bought the machine in 1978 because their wheat crop dried out and they needed a baler to put it up. “Everybody said get a Vermeer,” he said.

Stan and Bev Laufer, along with several of their children, own and operate Laufer Vermeer on the farm and ranch north of Hettinger, N.D.

“We went along for a few years (with a part-time dealership) and finally I said ‘Let’s get in or get out’” says Bev.

For years, Laufer Vermeer existed in a dedicated “corner of this shed,” but a few years ago, the Laufers built a shop with an office, where they sell and repair Vermeer agricultural equipment, High-Line processors, parts and used equipment. In addition, Stan and Bev run around 200 head of cow/calf pairs and raise wheat, corn, sunflowers, barley and alfalfa, among other things.

“It gets pretty hectic around here in the summertime,” says Bev. “It used to just be summertime, but now with the processors and things, it’s getting year-round busy.”

The Southwestern North Dakota business has always been a family-run outfit, and sons Frank, Dustin, and Michael operate farms nearby and continue to help in the shop. Daughter Julie, an accountant in Dickinson, helps with the books whenever she can.

Daughter Paige, earned animal science and crop degrees “so she can show her brothers how to farm,” said Stan. “The girls do most of the belt repair.”

Son Benjamin is going to school in Rapid City to become a licensed welder, and he plans to return to the farm/business when he finishes school. “It was kind of funny,” says Bev, “’cause he graduated from high school and he didn’t know what he wanted to do, but I had gotten hurt that spring, so he helped out in the shop a lot more, and he really liked welding, so he decided to go to school for that. He’d like to get into farming when he gets back, too.”

Like most family businesses, each individual has his or her own responsibilities, but in a pinch that all goes out the window. “We all do repairs on everything, whoever’s around, really. We’ve all done a lot of welding. And we all can deliver equipment,” says Bev. “I am the parts person, and I’m usually the salesman. And Stan and I go together to look at used equipment.”

The Laufers, and particularly Bev, are held in high regard in the region for their knowledge of equipment and ability to send the right part the first time. Neighbors know they can call at anytime and get good help. Bev is pretty modest about that. “Well we have to go to service schools (for each new product), but we also have the advantage of running them on the place. We’ve used the baler, we’ve used the mower, and the processor, and we get to know them.”

“All the Vermeer balers have been good. The newest one, the Super M, is a great baler. It’s pickup and net wrap are the best in the business.”

So is the 605F, the baler that started it all, sitting proudly on a hill on their farm, enjoying retirement? “No, it’s long gone, I don’t remember where it went,” says Bev with a laugh. “But seriously, a lot of guys around here still use those 605F’s, and they’re still a good baler.

“It helps that most Vermeer customers are half-ornery but very loyal,” she adds.