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Durham business turns tractors into family matter

Staff writer

As one of Durham’s oldest businesses, G and R Implement Co., has been around since the 1950s, but its current outlook began 12 years ago.

For the first five decades, G and R was a dealer for AGCO Corp. farm equipment, but the corporation didn’t want two dealers in the same area. With Lang Diesel in Hillsboro, Harry Rhodes’ purchase of G and R in 2006, provided a natural change, and he switched to dealing mainly with Vermeer tractors.

An advantage of working with Vermeer is that they understand the mindset of smaller dealers, sales manager and co-owner Mike Rhodes said.

“That’s what’s nice, they cater to the small dealers,” he said. “They’re family-owned, so that’s who they want to help out.”

The connection with Vermeer has been especially helpful for mechanic Terry Schultz, who appreciates that the engines for balers aren’t overly complex.

“They’re a lot simpler than a diesel engine,” he said. “That’s been an advantage for me because assembly is easier to learn.”

Schultz has been with the company since 2012, but before that, he did masonry in Georgia.

Having coworkers he could ask for help was important to Schultz since his skills were learned on the job.

“I need that interaction, partly because I’m not a born mechanic,” he said. “I have to ask how stuff is done from time to time, so for me it’s good.”

The business was further solidified as a family operation last year, when Mike and his brother, Darrin, became partners with their dad. That doesn’t mean the younger generation is automatically in line to take over in the future, though, Mike Rhodes said.

“If my son is interested in being part of the business, that would be great,” he said. “But it’s not going to be held to only being family.”

They don’t deal exclusively with Vermeer, and include services from grain carts to zero-turn mowers.

There is also a store/office section with hardware supplies, but space is limited, Rhodes said.

“We try to stock a fair bit of hardware stuff,” he said. “The place is kind of small to stock even what people would like us to stock. We just don’t have the space for it.”

Also included in the shop is a display for Stihl, from chainsaws to leaf blowers.

While they are a small dealer in a rural county, G and R is making an effort to update the company with a new website, Rhodes said.

“In this business environment anymore, that’s where a lot of people go,” he said. “With our new equipment, all the specs will be on there, so customers can go there to get info.”

When the site is revamped in a few weeks, product specs will be automatically updated, Rhodes said.

Demonstrating commitment to the area was important to Rhodes, and it allowed the company to build a reputation in the community.

“We’ve been here long enough that the connection has been made,” he said. “Everybody in the area knows about us because of how long we’ve been here.”

Despite not learning the craft early in his professional life, Schultz also sees his career as a long-term decision.

“When I take on a job, I figure that’s what I’m going to be working at the rest of my life,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, that’s one thing, but that’s my job.”

Last modified Feb. 20, 2019

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