By SUSAN BLOWER
PENDLETON, Ind. — The former Heartland New Holland store in Pendleton, Ind., will be torn down this year, but store manager and former owner Mike Romack isn’t shedding any tears.
In fact, he’s excited, because a new 17,000 square-foot building will take its place. Bane Equipment is the new owner. The foundation was poured last month, and the new store is expected to be finished by spring or summer. The old facility, dating from the 1960s, was just 8,500 square feet.
Romack sold both the building and property at 5729 Indiana 38, just west of Pendleton, in January 2011 to Bane Equipment, which wanted to expand its retail network into the area, Romack said.
The switch involved a color change from blue to red – the Pendleton site now offers Case IH equipment, rather than New Holland, but still sells Kinze planters because of their popularity, Romack said.
“The ag economy for the last 10 years has grown and continued to improve, and we want to grow with it.
That’s the reason for the new building,” Romack said.
Ag equipment has also grown in size. Farmers are buying fewer compact tractors, which used to populate his sales area, Romack said, and that means servicing larger equipment, as well. Getting large planters and other oversized equipment inside the store for service has been a challenge, if not impossible. The largest pieces have had to be serviced outside.
“Farm equipment is a lot bigger (in general). It’s really going to be great having three times the shop space. With the new doors, we can get the equipment inside,” said Jerry Hanna, mechanic for 12 years at that location.
A few weeks ago, Hanna was reconditioning a used 16-row Kinze planter, which consumed much of the shop. New Kinze 24-row planters were for sale in the parking lot.
The investment in the store is welcome, said Romack’s employees, all of whom stayed after the store changed hands.
“I’ve worked for Bane before, and they are good people to work with,” said Kyle Redding, accounts manager. “This big change is really exciting. There will be a snowball effect of the investment here.”
Romack, a New Holland dealer since 1996, said he took home the New Holland toy tractors that were on his office shelf and replaced the orange welcome mat by the door. He plans to display them at home and sees no discrepancy in his loyalties.
“CNH is the global parent company of both Case IH and New Holland. There is a commonality of parts. We will still be able to service many of our former customers. And we’ll be able to attract new customers,” Romack said.
At 64, Romack doesn’t think he will ever be bored in the ag business.
“Technology is big. Case IH is big in precision farming, using GPS to be more efficient. There is always something new to learn,” he added.