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Hammell Equipment, a success story

Fri, Jan 25th, 2013
Posted in All Features

Linus and Bernie Hammell took a leap of faith and decided to establish a business in Chatfield in 1976. The two brothers grew up on a farm in New Albin, Iowa, and were two of eight children, six boys and two girls. Having worked in construction out west for about ten years, Linus recalled receiving a call from Bernie one day asking him if he would be interested in starting the business. Bernie was living in the area and had gone to school to be a mechanic.

The brothers started the dealership where the Chatfield Body Shop is now located. Linus remarked, “It has worked out well so far.” About four years later the brothers purchased around twelve acres of land from the school district. This is where the Chatfield store is now located along Highway 52 just north of the city limits of Chatfield.

Over the years the brothers expanded their business to stores in Rushford, Harmony, and Eitzen. Linus explained that part of the reasoning behind the expansion to four stores is the shrinking number of farmers. Because of the reduction in the number of farmers, the growth into other communities allows them to bring more people into their stores. He estimated that there is only one farm customer today where there had been ten in 1976. Over this period there has been a dramatic change in the size of farms and the number of acres worked by one operator.

Linus acknowledged that the brands and equipment available in one store may not be available at all of their stores. The dealership sells and services Case IH, Kinze, AGCO, Artic Cat, Stihl, Meyer, Cub Cadet, Simplicity, and many more brand names. They also sell toys and clothing. Equipment like four wheelers are purchased in about equal numbers by the town’s people and farmers.

Business has been good and Linus is optimistic that it will continue to be good over the next couple years. They recently built a large new building at the Chatfield location which is used for set up of new equipment and for maintenance. The four stores employ 30 to 40 people, including their four brothers.

Linus expects the high land rents to have an effect on machinery sales. Asked if they lease equipment, he said they mainly sell equipment. He recalled that during the early 1980s when interest rates were very high it was a tough time for many farmers. They were forced to repossess a number of combines and it was a tough time for their business as well.

He expects they will expand one of the other stores in the coming year.

Linus wanted to thank all the people that they have done business with over the years. Their support is appreciated, as “that is what keeps us going.”

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