Meyerink Farm Service–The can-do place
For more than a century the little quiet community of Platte has enhanced southeastern South Dakota. It’s not a place you’d expect to draw a lot of press or create a big stir, yet the volume of business traffic in and out belies that impression. Much of that traffic is related to Meyerink Farm Service, Platte’s personal “build it and they will come” factor.
The family-founded/owned business employs around 40 people full-time, and serves agricultural, construction and transportation needs across dozens of states. They offer everything in parts and service, along with new and used equipment sales including land scrapers, truck boxes, mixer wagons, pallet forks, bale spears, buckets, ear corn feeders, feed bunks and free stalls; plus gates, fencing and other livestock related items, bringing a lot of dollars into the local economy.
Dave Meyerink and his brother Duane were born in Platte, and have lived there all their lives. They started out farming, with their father Gerard. Natural craftsmen and innovators, they were soon building gates for the local sale barn, plus repairing whatever area farmers brought to them, all while still farming. The growing volume of work caused them to start a shop in town — at first “Just a 36’ x 36’ building that had some storage behind it,” Dave says. “In 1977 we moved into the second location and went from two employees to about five.”
They added on to that location two or three more times, still doing mainly service work and repair, Dave says. Then in the mid ’80s they started fabricating truck bodies, transports, feeder wagons and all sorts of gates. They kept adding equipment, like turning lathes, old flame cutting pattern torches, etc. In the mid ’90s they moved into building bog scrapers and truck boxes. “We always catered mainly to the ag industry, both livestock and farming,” he said.
After that they started rebuilding combine concaves and then also started to rebuild the Case IH mower heads. As volume increased they outgrew that space and in 2003 moved to their current location, where they now have 40 employees.
That many employees with enough equipment to build all those products take up a fair amount of country. Dave says their largest shop today is 45,000 square feet under one roof. “There’s 11,000 square feet in another, and another has about 6,000. We continue to add equipment, like an 8’ x 20’ high definition plasma table and a 600-ton, 20-foot press brake for forming metal.”
“We have extensive machine shop fabrication, and 90 percent of what we do is all in-house,” Dave Meyerink says.
Their father, Gerard, passed away in 2004, but the company still includes two generations of Meyerinks. “Duane and I co-own the business and each of us has a son in business with us.” Dave says. The sons in the business are Dave’s Jarod, who has three sons of his own; and Duane’s Jaden, still enjoying the single life.
Mark Burket of Platte Hospital talks about one of Meyerinks’ more unusual projects. “About eight years ago we were building a new facility and one of our decisions was to build strong enough to accommodate a helipad on the roof. We didn’t include that in the initial plans but as things progressed we began to look at implementing it. That’s when we discovered there are only two companies in the US who build those things,” he says.
“Add to that we are very landlocked here, and the pricing and structure and everything involved to implement it looked impossible – totally beyond our ability to manage,” Mark says. “I talked with Dave Meyerink and he said he thought we could make it work. So we hired a consultant and an engineer, all personally read a lot of F.A.A. manuals, worked with Meyerinks, and the result is just remarkable.”
“When we kicked off the building we had one of the hospital choppers fly in and land, and I was able to go up inside with the pilot,” Mark said. “I put the headphones on and he said, ‘Wow, what a great helipad!’ Before he left he told me, ‘You know, this is the nicest helipad we land on, in the entire 5-state area we cover!’”
The Meyerink clan’s popularity and respect are widespread. Just mention their name on the street in Platte and you’ll hear more good things. Local contractor and businessman Tyler Samuelson says, “They’re a lifeline for us, and we attribute a ton of our business success to them. I started my business about nine years ago and I was young and didn’t know where to go to get what I needed, and from the very first day they were helping me. In fact they got me my first tele-handler.
“We do a lot of wintertime work in our shop, and those guys are always helping us get parts and supplies. If we run into an issue it seems like they drop everything they’re doing just to help us out. They’re seriously one of the best businesses in town for our community. I know a lot of other people here would agree with me that they’re a good reason why we all succeed in this community.”
Partner brother Duane Meyerink said, “We’re pretty proud of a lot of things in our community, it’s a viable little town. There’s another manufacturing company up on the other side of town that builds trailers, and we do a lot of work for them as well. And we did a lot of work for a company out of Gillette, Wyoming, when one of their machines broke down. They said we were the closest outfit they could find that does this kind of fabricating.”
The entire Meyerink clan loves their community and they’re involved in everything that benefits Platte in any way – from hospital fund drives to swimming pools to furnishing equipment wherever needed. Dave is currently president of a large water district and past-president of the Hospital Board, and is a retired firefighter. His son Jarod is a firefighter and an EMT, and brother Duane is also an EMT. And the whole clan is involved with Pheasants Forever.
“We’ve been extremely blessed to be in a community with good employees and good honest people to work for,” Duane says. “We just lost an employee this year that had been with us over 20 years, and some others have been here that long as well. We try and treat our employees like family – we’re a family-owned business and that’s where we feel we can give back a little bit because we’ve been so blessed.”
Platte is likewise blessed, in many ways, by being home to Meyerink Farm Service. Beyond their community service and support Duane said, “We bring people in to town, and if they’re waiting for a part or some service or repairs to be finished they’ll go downtown and maybe eat or shop . . . people who might not be in Platte except for coming to our shop.”
Mark Burket echoed that, saying “They’re a pillar to the community, in an economic sense in the goods and manufacturing they do, plus they drum up business with the people they draw here. More importantly they’re an asset through their solid business expertise, their brilliance, determination and drive; and most of all, their great ‘can-do’ attitude. If anything can be done, Meyerinks can do it – and they’ll do it well!”
Tom Varilek is another who’ll tell you about Meyerinks; and he’s known them a long time. “There’s three generations of Varileks and three generations of Meyerinks that have worked together, and we’ve done a lot of work,” Tom says. “Our dads worked together and our generation works together, and now our kids do the same. They’re good friends and great people. My Dad used to say ‘if it can be fixed, Meyerinks can fix it.’ And that’s the truth.”