Merz Farm Equipment, Inc.
Merz Farm Equipment, Inc. is your family owned one stop shop for farm equipment! We have over 60 years experience in the ag machinery industry and the knowledge to make sure you get exactly what you are needing! Located in Southeast Nebraska, covering a 4 state area including Northwest Missouri, Southwest Iowa & Northeast Kansas. Our top of the industry trained staff is the easiest to work with and will make you feel like part of the family! Farming is tougher than ever, count on family to have your back!
Merz Farm Equipment, Inc. is your family owned one stop shop for farm equipment! Our top of the industry trained staff is the easiest to work with and will make you feel part of the family! Farming is tougher than ever, count on family to have your back! Read about our legacy below!
It was an autumn day in 1952 with a 12 year old boy looking out the window. Dennis Merz didn't know it at the time but more than just the leaves were changing in his world. He watched out the window as two businessmen made a transaction with the shake of their right hands. Those two businessmen were Dennis' father Nelson Merz & Harold Strauss. Harold was the local Ferguson tractor dealership and had sold more than a tractor on that day. Nelson had just purchased the local Ferguson tractor dealership.
Nelson Merz was a farmer with his two brothers; they farmed 540 acres between them until January 1953. On that cold winter day in January, Dennis learned what his father had shaken hands with that man back in the fall. He went along with his father to the south side of town, where the railroad came through town. As the train rolled to a stop and the boxcar door opened Dennis saw eight brand new Ferguson 30 tractors. Dennis recalls them all being in the railcar sideways. The only way to get them out was to use a jack and slide them to the center of the car to drive out. They drove them from the all the way through town to the north edge of Falls City, Nebraska.
Over 58 years later Merz Farm Equipment, Inc still sits on the north edge of Falls City, Nebraska. Merz Farm Equipment has moved but so have the city limits. The equipment on display is a bit larger, has a little more technology involved and cost just a few dollars more these days. But not everything has changed the Merz family is still there, with the same ambitions that drove Nelson to create this type of business with values on its customers' needs and goals.
Although Nelson wasn't farming full time with his brothers any longer there were still chores to tend to with 25 Grade A milk cows and 120 acres of farm ground. The Merz family had the first Grade A Dairy Barn in the area. Nelson & Caroline Merz had nine children to pick up the duties. As time passed each of those nine children got their opportunities to work in the dealership.
Within a few years of Merz Farm Equipment selling Ferguson tractors, the business partnership of Harry Ferguson with Massey Harris was formed, along with this came the combine business. The local business was expanding quickly, within a year Nelson had built his first building with 3,200 square feet of floor space. He added another one in 1959, expanded that building in 1961, and in 1969 built another building next to the original building. All of which are still there today. A Falls City Journal article in 1957 that noted, 'A comparatively new business has flourished by leaps and bounds in its four years of existence.' With the addition of Pfister Seed Corn & Wayne Feeds, along with the farm machinery the Merz family was doing over $1,000-a-day business. 19 self-propelled combines were sold in 1955. At this time there were 7 tractor dealerships in town, today there is only one.
By the end of 1962 Merz Farm Equipment had grown to one of the top dealers, ranking in the top five in dealer sales by volume at the Des Moines branch meetings. In 1963 Nelson won a brand new Chevrolet pickup for his achievement of highest volume retail sales in a fall program.
Over the next 5 decades the local business continued to thrive. Nelson eventually had all three of his sons involved in the daily business, with some of his daughters helping from time to time as well. Dennis was the oldest son, who went to work for Massey Ferguson as a Field Service Rep in March 1962. He returned home to the family business in August of 1963. Gale Merz started in the family dealership in 1966 & 10 years later Bruce Merz started full time at the family business in upon high school graduation in 1976. Bruce has been heard saying he has worked 'since he could walk' for the family business.
In the Fall of 1973 it was announced at a sales meeting in Grand Island, Nebraska that Merz Farm Equipment was going to be building a new building on a new location. Over the summer of 1974 the building was constructed and in January 1975 the Merz firm completed its move to its brand new all steel 10,000 square foot building. The new location included plenty of area to continue to expand on what had been 22 years of success.
With a new building and all three sons following in his footsteps, Nelson found a new adventure to occupy his time, the Nebraska State Senate. In 1976 Nelson left for the Legislature, the second generation was in the cockpit, soaring to new levels. While Nelson served as a State Senator, the business he had taken to this level continued to operate smoothly, including a 25th anniversary. 30th Anniversary came and went with a record turnout for the event that included Massey Ferguson presentations, equipment displays, an art workshop for the women, an evening meal followed by a band and dance.
After the 80's had hit in full effect, Merz Farm Equipment was still growing, adding a second location in Forest City, Missouri in October 1987. The location had previously been a Massey Ferguson dealership that had failed to make it through the decade. At that time, Dennis, Gale & Bruce had assumed most of the responsibilities of the daily business. But it wasn't too hard to find Nelson at the place of business he had founded.
During the 90's business did not slow down, rather the business again received award after award, including the highest volume Massey Ferguson dealer in the North Plains Region in 1995. Over the years the family members and staff have earned a number of Massey Ferguson award trips, including the Canary Islands in 1975, Mexico City, Hawaii, Scottsdale, San Diego, Walt Disney World and many more. Bruce Merz went to Germany in 1993, on a select Massey Ferguson trip with 16 other dealers to tour the Claas facilities while they were working with Massey Ferguson on the combine market.
Early in 1996 the Merz family lost Nelson to his battle with cancer, but the Merz family has never lost the passion for Massey Ferguson farm equipment and the dedication to their customers that Nelson stood for. Nelson Merz was an innovator in his agricultural equipment dealership. One building at a time and one dream driving him forward he managed to bring together family, friends, and a loyal farming community with his vision. Although this man does not sit behind the desk the business continues today with many of the ambitions of Nelson. The three sons took over from him in and continued on the same fast pace that the business had been on for the previous 43 years.
Nothing was off limits for Nelson, business was business, and sales were sales. Over the years he traded for hogs, a set of dapple grey Shetland ponies, cows, an airplane, and the list goes on. He worked with his customers, made his customers feel like a part of the family, made many, many friends all while setting up a business that continued to flourish for decades with the focus on customer service.
In 2003, Merz Farm Equipment celebrated a golden anniversary, 50 Years! The celebration included a large equipment display with many Ferguson & Massey Harris tractors. Dennis, who had recently retired, brought proof he was not sitting back during his retirement. He displayed one of the first Ferguson tractors sold by Merz Farm Equipment, a tractor that he had found and restored. The special event brought Massey Reps from old to new into Falls City. Norbert Schneider, Dale Berska, John Nunen, Lavern Shaw, Frank Steffes, Tony Hendricks, Frank Lerick, Harold Hurd, Les Root to name a few.
Following the 55th Anniversary in 2008 Gale contemplated retirement. Gale's retirement early in 2010 after managing the parts department for 45-plus years left Bruce being the only Merz family member left involved in daily management. Merz Farm Equipment lost a wealth of knowledge and experience including which bearing would work in place of another with Gale's retirement. However he left plenty of notes for the 3rd generation to step in. Stepping in was exactly what Mitch Merz, Bruce's son, had in his plans. Mitch came back home and is now involved with the business.
Bruce Merz & Mitch Merz are continuing in Nelson's vision of providing a top-tier product with a focus on customer service. Never caring if it's a Sunday afternoon or a late night call for a hydraulic hose or part to get the combine back up and running, Bruce and Mitch run to help that customer get exactly what he needs to get back to his way of life.
The Merz family is not doing all this expansion and growth on their own; they have many past and present employees that have been critical to get to this point. Hundreds of young men and women have worked during their high school years, some have come and gone, others have stayed. Bob Morehead came in during his high school years, came back to the family business as a mechanic, 35 years later you can still visit with Bob on any given day in the service department. Tom & Rhonda Standerford came aboard 15 years ago. Rhonda's father, Harold Hurd was a Massey Ferguson Sales Rep & Trainer. Bruce Kreager, Kyle Kirkendall & Kurt Kirkendall all are young employees helping Mitch set the stage for the next 50-plus years in business. In addition to the Merz employees, the company reps have been there to provide support over the years, Lavern Shaw, Lonnie Korus, Scott Hutt, Mike Richardson, Robert Ross & Eric Rasmussen currently.
'A dedication to the farmer with this work ethic, customer service experience and values is what the Merz family has always stood for. The Merz family has been like our family,' stated Don Goltz, a life-long customer. Don, who had stopped in to visit while passing some time before an appointment in town, went on to recall farming with a brand new 180 and brand new 410 combine 'those were the days in farming, ain't no doubt.' Mr. Goltz also told that his grandson had just restored a Ferguson 35. That Ferguson 35 was the first tractor Don had bought when he got back from the service in 1955; it was also the first 35 that my grandfather had sold. Since Don's father bought a Ferguson in 1947 they have always had Massey Ferguson equipment, 'From a blade and all the way up to all the tractors and combines, they have been from here' while sitting at the parts counter.
Bruce Merz recalls a story that included Don Goltz purchasing an 1130 and turning around and trading it in with less than 100 hours on the tach because the 1135 was introduced. Bruce jokes that he put more hours on the tractor driving it the 10 mile journey back to the dealership than Don put on the tractor.
Even though Don Goltz had purchased one of the first 1135 tractors out, another customer of Merz Farm Equipment took it one step further. Brian Ussary, a long-time customer, purchased the first 3680 sold in North America from Bruce Merz. Brian even recalls it was so new that Massey came out to take pictures of that tractor for the literature that was not even out yet! He has some of those photos to this day. Brian, who started purchasing his equipment from the Merz family in 1983 passed by other dealerships on his route to Falls City.
When asked why he started coming to Falls City to purchase his equipment, even though there were Massey Ferguson dealers closer to his farm, Brian responded, 'Merz's had a 1080, so I came up to look.' Today Mr. Ussary not only still has that same 1080 but continues to come look and purchase equipment from Bruce. Brian must have said something nice about the Merz family in his community of Agency, Missouri, as now the community is a major trade area for the Merz dealership located 60 miles to the north.
Massey history is on display in the Agency community. The Massey roots run deep in this region, Brian Ussary, Charlie Kline, David Kelsey & Don Stagner recently hosted Massey Days this past summer. Bringing in over 200 vintage Massey Harris Ferguson pieces of equipment, from all over the United States. As much as these men all enjoy their Massey Harris tractors, they all have brand new Massey Ferguson machines in their machine sheds. From ZT29 lawn mowers to 9695 combines, it is difficult to pass through this small community without seeing a product that came from the Merz establishment. It is also very possible to find Bruce Merz in the neighborhood!
That wide range of equipment is exactly what Bruce Merz feels has kept Merz Farm Equipment successful for nearly 60 years. 'We have sold everything, tractors, combines and implements,' Bruce says, 'along with a good number of short line brands.'
'The acquisitions of AGCO has been really neat to see from my standpoint,' Mitch states, 'We have always been a Massey Ferguson dealer, but we also carried Hesston hay equipment, Sunflower tillage equipment, among other short lines that AGCO has acquired in recent years'
'I foresee my father being very similar in his 'retirement' years as my grandfather in his years after turning the business over to the next generation. I remember coming in as a youngster and Grandpa always being here, Dad isn't leaving!' says Mitch. 'I have watched and learned for 27 years of my life, I learn from dad every day. I want to do exactly what they have done before me. I am just the next generation of the Merz family. I appreciate everything my grandfather, father and uncles have worked their entire lives creating and feel privileged that I have the opportunity to continue in their footsteps. '
The solid values that the business was built on stand as true today as they did on that cold winter day in January 1953.