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Preston Equipment still in the family

Fri, Dec 14th, 2012
Posted in Preston Features

Preston Equipment employees (L to R): Scott Trouten, Andrew Borgan, Kyle Smith, Richard Haskovec, Mike McCaulley, Craig Tammel, Jenny Dornink, Sierra Haugerud, Corey Whalen, Melvin Meiners, Ryan Srsen, Lynn Eich, Jeff Johnson, Dean Underbakke, and Steve Ille. Not Pictured: James Rediske. Photo by Jade Sexton

Preston Equipment has had its spot right outside of town for 39 years, and has been selling John Deere products to the Fillmore County area that entire time. Since then, the company has undergone changes and growth, and has overcome difficulties in order to still be standing where it is.

Harvey Ille owned and operated Preston Equipment with his family until he passed away last winter. His son Steve has now taken over, and the company is still going strong.

“Many people thought we were going to shut down,” shared Ille. “Even our employees.”

In fact, the John Deere corporate office gave them an ultimatum. They were to join with SEMA Equipment, Inc. or close down.

Ille gathered a team of employees and they traveled to the Twin Cities to give the corporate office a three-hour long presentation about their business plan, as well as plans for the future. As long as Steve Ille stayed on and ran the business, they were allowed to remain independent.

“We wanted to stay with John Deere,” said Ille. “We’ve done really well here.”

Speaking of all the people that work for the company, and how they are friends and relatives of all the customers, Ille said, “To close the business was not an option.”

The economy has struggled everywhere, but agriculture in southeast Minnesota has remained steady.

“When the farmers make money, we make money,” said Ille. “That’s how we’ve built our business.”

Preston Equipment employs about 16-20 people right now, and they are looking at hiring anywhere from five to nine more. Ille said part of their future plans are to expand on their building for a new shop area.

John Deere is not the only brand sold at Preston Equipment. They also sell Ski-Doo, Can Am, and Sioux Steel chainsaws and other products. They sell a lot of snowmobiles in the fall for people getting ready for the winter season. And they also have a gift shop with unique items such as toy tractors and John Deere clothing.

Providing a great service for the local residents has always been high priority for the family at Preston Equipment. “Fillmore County is an important area for us,” said Ille. “We sell things all over, but if you take care of local people, you’ll be fine.

Ille has taught school in Lanesboro, Fillmore Central, and Rochester, but also worked with his family at Preston Equipment for the last 20 years, taking care of the financial side of the business. His siblings are also an important part of the family business.

Ille shared that customer service was extremely important to his father, and that’s the way he did business. The family wants to continue that tradition. Taking care of the employees is also important to them.

“The people working for us are friends and relatives to our customers,” said Ille.

There are employees that have been with the company since the beginning, 39 years ago, and some that have been there for at least 30 years.

For more information on Preston Equipment and all they offer, visit

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