By Susan Crowell / firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Nelson Witmer, company president, the agreement should be finalized June 9. The first day of operations will be June 12.
Witmer said the family sold the equipment dealership and is focusing on its construction business. Ohio Ag Equipment is leasing two-thirds of their building for the new dealership, and is maintaining current Witmer’s employees.
This will be Ohio Ag’s fifth location, in addition to facilities in Upper Sandusky, Washington Court House, Napoleon and Millersburg. The Salem store, as the branch will be known, will carry a full line of AGCO products, as well as lines from Challenger, Massey Ferguson, Gleaner, RoGator, TerraGator, Willmar, White Planters, Sunflower, Lexion, MacDon, Geringhoff and Unverferth.
The company is headquartered in Broadview Heights, Ohio.
“There was a desire to grow our ag division, and to increase our ag footprint across the state,” said Mike Mampieri, Ohio Ag Equipment general manager. “It was a perfect fit, perfect timing.”
“It’s a very difficult time in the ag industry, but we’re in it for the long haul,” Mampieri said. “It’s just a great opportunity for us to come into.”
“I guess it’s time,” said Ralph Witmer, who will soon celebrate his 90th birthday.
The economics of a single store dealership “isn’t there any more,” he added, and growth by adding multiple locations “just wasn’t on our radar.”
“It’s a win-win situation.”
AGCO has given the manufacturer’s green light for the transfer.
Nelson Witmer said Ohio Ag brings “strong management,” and he expects equipment customers will see very little interruption in business. It was also important to the Witmer family that existing employees would keep their jobs with the new owner.
“This is a decision we made; no one forced us to make it,” Witmer said. “We think it’s the best way to make sure our customers and our employees are served in this fast-paced environment.”
He said they can now focus on their industrial, commercial and agricultural construction business — Witmer’s Construction Inc. — which extends in a 75-mile radius of Columbiana. Ralph Witmer started the construction company in 1969, and it has been Nelson Witmer’s focus since returning to the family businesses after graduating from college.
Witmer, now 52, said the dealership sale lets him focus on strategic growth of this enterprise, which will always include agricultural construction.
“We’re not losing our ag roots.”