Kayton Implement was started in 1912 by Henry C. Kayton in Belgrade, NE. The business, which was previously owned by Andrews Brother’s, was managed by Henry Kayton for 4 years prior to him purchasing the business. They sold spreaders, buggies, Burg wagons, small Rumley engines, Rock Island engines, and short line equipment such as Century Cultivators. Henry picked up the International Harvester line sometime in the 1920’s. Henry and his wife Belle had three children: Harold, Eva and Edna.
Harold Kayton was discharged from the Navy in 1920 and took a job with International Harvester Co. where he worked until 1930. He decided to open a farm equipment store in Cedar Rapids, NE. Their main line of equipment was International Harvester along with a few short lines. Two years after opening the store it burned to the ground. They rebuilt the business on the east end of Main Street where it remained until 1977.
In 1932, Henry passed away leaving a void in the Belgrade Store. Rather than closing the business, Henry’s oldest daughter, Eva managed the store. She continued the store until 1934 at which time it closed.
With hard times in the 1930’s the Cedar Rapids store was struggling, so Harold subsidized the business by working with the WPA and his wife, Elvira, ran the business. She continued running the business until 1948.
Harold and his wife, Elvira, known by everyone as “Mom and Pop Kayton”, ran the business as partners and raised two children: Robert (Bob) and JoAnn. Harold’s health failed in 1946, so Bob, just out of high school, took over the business. He became part owner in 1950 just before going into the Navy. While in the Navy, Bob and Joan (DeWulf) were married in California. They returned to Cedar Rapids in August of 1954 to start their family. Bob bought the remaining interest in the business in 1963. Harold stayed active in the business until his death on July 12, 1966.
Farming and business boomed in the 1970’s and International Harvester was pushing for dealers to build new stores. Since the business had outgrown its present location, the decision was made to move the store to Albion, NE and change the name from Kayton Implement to Kayton International, Inc. The move was completed in March 1977. As the business continued to grow, Bob turned over the daily operations to Roger Ternus. Tim Kayton came back to the family business in 1991 to help with the operations of the business. Bob continued to oversee the business until his untimely death on June 21, 1996. The store was then purchased by Tim Kayton, Roger Ternus, and Steve Kayton in 1998.
Additional location were purchased by Kayton International in 1992 (Neligh), 1995 (Norfolk), and 2006 (Crofton). Sister stores Rabe International in Fairmont, MN and Horizonwest in Scottsbluff and Sidney, NE and Torrington, WY were purchased in 1992 and 2001.
Over the past 100 years there have been many challenges and changes in machinery, management and employees. The company continues to be a family owned business that cares about the communities and the people in them. Anyone who has ever known Henry, Harold, Bob, Tim, Roger or Steve knows their basic philosophy has remained the same: “Offer a good product at a fair price and always remember our customer is the number one asset of the business.”