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Bertsch acquires southern Indiana dairy supply store
By DAVE BLOWER JR.
Farm World Editor

NEW SALEM, Ind. — In 1984, Larry Jarman and his wife, Chris, opened J&J Dairy Center near their home in southern Rush County, Ind.

With an eye for detail, the Jarmans built their business, which sold milking equipment and supplies plus service to dairy producers stretching from southwestern Ohio to the Wabash River and south to the Ohio River.

Yet, as the dairy industry has changed, those who are in the dairy equipment retail business must also change. The Jarmans sold their business to Bertsch Dairy Equipment, Inc. last week.

“The dairy industry is changing so much,” Jarman said. “Everyone is going big.

“We’re not staffed to do that kind of job, but Stan Bertsch is. So, this seemed like a good deal for both of us and for our customers.”

Stan Bertsch, owner and general manager for Bertsch Dairy, also owns stores in Bluffton and Wakarusa in Indiana. J&J Dairy Center will now be known as Bertsch Dairy Equipment South.

“Dairies are getting fewer and farther between,” Bertsch said. “But they’re also getting bigger. It increases their buying power.

“A larger dairy has different needs than a small dairy operation. We believe we can help meet those needs.”

Jarman only sold the dairy side to his business.

He also sells Badger livestock feeding equipment and H&S hay and manure management equipment. Jarman will continue to work in the dairy store as an employee to Bertsch. He said his son, Troy Jarman, will continue to make service calls for the store.

Currently, Jarman said he has 83 dairy customers.

“At one point we had more than 200, but the business has changed so much,” he said. “However, there is a lot of potential for more than what we have.”

One of the changes in service will include a supply truck that will make a regular route to its dairy customers. Additional servicemen will likely be added to the store, as well. Bertsch said an installation crew based at the company’s Bluffton headquarters has the ability to install a variety of dairy equipment, regardless of the size of the operation.

“We installed equipment for the Traders Point dairy in Indianapolis, and we’ve done a lot of natural or organic dairy operations that have 60-300 cows,” Bertsch said. “We have also built quite a few large dairies, including several for the large Dutch farms that are coming in.”

Bertsch’s business partners are Rick Hirschy and Brent Byerly. J&J Dairy Center has been a dealer of WestfaliaSurge dairy equipment for nearly 20 years. Bertsch said he markets the same equipment.

Jerry Quellhorst, a territory manager for WestfaliaSurge, said he’s worked with both Jarman and Bertsch. WestfaliaSurge has its North American headquarters in Naperville, Ill.

Quellhorst believes the transition will be smooth. He said Bertsch should be better adapted to handle the needs of the larger dairies in the area.

“The dairy business has really become a 24/7 business,” Quellhorst said. “Their shutdown time is very minimal - for some its only two hours a day. When you’re milking so many hours a day, you really need to have a response immediately when there is a problem. You really have to consider it emergency service.”

Published in the January 18, 2006 issue of Farm World.

1/18/2006