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Gooseneck Implement grows across the state

With the purchase of the John Deere dealership formerly known as Haugen’s Inc. in Williston last December, Gooseneck Implement has grown to eight locations, including Kenmare, Harvey, Rugby, Velva, Minot and expanded facilities in Mohall and Stanley.

2/09/11 (Wed)

 
Got its start here . . . The John Deere dealership in Kenmare
took the name Gooseneck Implement back in 1974. 
With the addition of the Williston store in December,
the Gooseneck Implement sign now stands over
the dealership lots in eight North Dakota towns.

 

 

Gooseneck now at eight locations with purchase
of Williston dealership
 
By Caroline Downs
 
With the purchase of the John Deere dealership formerly known as Haugen’s Inc. in Williston last December, Gooseneck Implement has grown to eight locations, including Kenmare, Harvey, Rugby, Velva, Minot and expanded facilities in Mohall and Stanley.
 
For Kevin Borud, manager of Gooseneck Implement, one reason for the expansion is about handling new sizes and lines of equipment.
 
“The equipment is getting bigger, and we need more room for parts and service,” he said. “Where you used to have 30-foot drills, now you have 60-foot drills. Some of our facilities couldn’t handle how things had grown.”
 
He noted recent changes made in Stanley and Mohall to improve efficiency in the parts, service and sales departments. “There, you had facilities good for the early 1970s, but it wasn’t working in the 2000s,” he said.
 
The investments by Gooseneck mean more lines of equipment are made available, including sprayers and skidsteers now, and more efficient service can be expected from the technicians. “We’re investing money back into the business to help it grow and serve our customers,” Borud said. “You’ve got to spend money to make money.”
 
Commitment to
staff and customers
More important than the machinery, though, is Gooseneck’s commitment to its customers and employees. Borud considers the two groups related, with loyal customers depending on knowledgeable Gooseneck staff, just as the employees’ efforts and success in each location lead to improved customer loyalty.
 
“In the areas we’re in, we’ve got good farmland and good farmers and ranchers,” he said. “So we want to hang onto our good employees. You’re no better than your people, and we have really good, solid people working for us.”
 
Gooseneck employs 233 staff members among its eight locations, and Borud wants every person working under the Gooseneck logo to be prepared to assist the customers. “Parts and service have always been the foundation of our company,” he said. “In the last ten years, we have outgrown everything, and customers are bringing in more equipment to be worked on. At the same time, we’re traveling farther to help cover problems and for sales and parts contacts.”
 
To that end, Gooseneck emphasizes training, especially given rapid changes in technology on the new equipment models that leave many customers unable to repair their own machinery.
 
“We send all of our technicians to schools to keep up-to-date on the new technology,” Borud said. “We spend a lot of money and time training, and we do in-house training, too. We want to make sure our people know how to help the customer.”
 
Borud is constantly working to increase the Gooseneck staff. “We are always looking for good people, whether it is in sales, service, parts or administrative,” he said.
 
The company has its own Human Resources department to focus on that goal and also recruits young students participating in one of several technician programs at colleges in Wahpeton, Fargo and Williston and other cities. Graduates of those programs usually have their tuition paid back if they work at least five years for Gooseneck Implement.
 
“Our turnover rate is less than four percent, and we are working hard to keep it that way by investing back into the company with benefits, buildings, vehicles, etc.,” Borud said. “All of that will help keep the process going, and the more good people you have on board, the more good people you will get. Most of our new hires come from employee referrals, and I think that shows people enjoy working here. We know we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for our employees.”
 
Typically, Gooseneck employees work long hours, averaging 55 hours per week as they make themselves available evenings and weekends to customers during spring’s work and harvest. “It would be nice to have more employees and cut that back to 48 hours or so,” Borud said, adding that job burn-out among the staff is a concern. “I would like to hire 20 more people right now. We probably have position open for you if you’re the right person.”
 
Plans for new
Kenmare facility
Current plans to build a new office and shop in Kenmare are related to employee recruitment and retention. According to Borud, Gooseneck is engaged in discussions to acquire some property near town and construct a larger facility. The existing business would be sold.
 
“With equipment getting bigger, getting more work, and wanting to keep and hire more good people, we have outgrown the store here in Kenmare,” he said, “although this plan isn’t set in stone yet.” He acknowledged he would like to see construction begin soon and be completed by the end of 2011.
 
“This will allow us to do a better job of servicing our customers and help me hire five more people at least,” he said, adding that the new Kenmare facility would look similar to those in built in Stanley and Mohall.
 
Long history with
vision for the future
Kenmare has had a John Deere dealership operating in town since the mid-1930s, when Al Rierson ran the business out of a building downtown east of the present location of the State Bank & Trust of Kenmare.
 
R.O. Jensen and A.O. Peterson bought the business in 1941, with Jensen later buying out Peterson’s interest. In October 1946, Jensen sold the dealership to Carl Peterson, who named it Kenmare Implement Co.
 
Carl Oberg purchased the operation on January 20, 1965. He also purchased 11 acres along Highway 52 in Coady’s First Addition and constructed a 50’x120’ building, setting up the business there as Oberg Implement Co.
 
Oberg sold the dealership to Mark Rasper on March 1, 1972, and the business became known as Rasper Implement, which was sold in May 1974 to Darrell Borud and Tom Burkett.
 
The partners changed the name to Gooseneck Implement, and Darrell Borud purchased Burkett’s interests within a couple of years.
 
Kevin Borud and his former wife Dawn bought the dealership from his father in 1989. By May 1994, Borud purchased the former Harris Equipment building and acreage on the west side of Highway 52 and relocated the business to its present location.
 
“This is where it started,” Borud said from his desk in Kenmare as he talked about the dealership’s growth to eight sites. “Then we bought the Minot store.”
 
He compared it to the merging of school districts and hospitals and to the way farmers have accumulated more fields. “We’ve got to be competitive, or you won’t stay in business,” he said.
 
Although the Kenmare store is the origin of Gooseneck Implement, Borud said each store stands alone with its own manager. “Because the Minot location is more central, we do handle some of the administrative stuff there,” he added, “and Jamie Melgaard and I oversee all of the managers.”
 
Today, Borud and Melgaard, along with a board of directors, make decisions for the company, often after consulting with the staff. “I have a lot of good people working here, and they have a lot of good input,” he said. “I like dealing with people and the challenges there are. The final decision comes down to me, but I know I’ve got good people here to support that.”
 
Borud is still as excited today about his career with John Deere as he was when he started 32 years ago. His sons work with him now, with Matt in sales at the Kenmare store and Roger in service writing at the Minot location.
 
Looking at their career paths, those of the rest of the staff and even his own encourages Borud to think ahead. “If you keep operating in conditions that don’t work in the current times,” he said, “you probably won’t be there.”
 
Within the next five years, he would like to see Gooseneck maintain its current staff and grow the organization with more skilled employees. “That’s our biggest direction,” he said. “We want more good people like we already have. That will allow us to take care of our customers and support the equipment we sell.”
 
He also linked the success of Gooseneck and its future to the strong farming economy in the state. “Farming and agriculture overall have been pretty good the last few years, and that affects everybody,” he said, “like churches, schools, hospitals, implement dealers, grocery stores, absolutely everything.”
 
He paused, then added, “Farmers are the backbone of this store. A lot of great things are going on here, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but where we are!”