Roof collapses at John Deere dealership


SALEM, Ohio — The snow in Carlisle Township piled up inch after inch March 9. At least a foot had fallen and strong winds swirled the flakes into gigantic drifts.

At Polen Implement on Oberlin-Elyria Road, the snow heaped onto the roof all day and throughout the night.

When the employees of the Lorain County John Deere dealership showed up for work March 10, it was obvious something was wrong.
“You could hear things snapping and popping,” said Doug Breitmayer, Polen’s marketing manager.

The roof had sagged 2 feet below its normal level and workers knew the building’s truss plates were starting to break under the weight of the snow.

Rescue mission

The employees got to work moving equipment and evacuating the building. They called the utility companies and had their gas, electric and water shut off. A crew attempted to clear snow, Dumpsters and other equipment from the surrounding area so a high reach could be used to remove snow from the roof.

But at 9 a.m., time ran out.

“It just kind of unceremoniously collapsed,” Breitmayer said.

The roof over the mower service area and service offices caved in while the business’ employees watched in disbelief.

Clean up

Although employees were given the opportunity to go home for the day, nearly everyone in the 30-member crew stayed to help clean up.

As word of the disaster spread, customers also called and stopped by to offer labor, storage space, tools and equipment.

Open for business

By 8 a.m. March 11, Polen Implement was back in business. After a little rearranging, the parts, service and sales departments were operating “close to business as usual,” Breitmayer said.

Moving forward

It didn’t take long for the company to decide how to proceed. By March 12, plans for a new building had been created and demolition of the old site was under way. At the end of that week, all that remained was the concrete pad the building had been built on.

Construction of the new building has begun and footers were poured March 24.

The largest single store John Deere dealer in Ohio, Polen Implement will move its parts inventory to the new building, allowing space for an expanded showroom and additional offices.

The new space will also feature a larger mower shop, a indoor wash bay, offices for the ag and mower service departments and a second-story meeting area.

Construction should be completed in two to three months.

(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at

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