Scott Supply Co. has been serving Mitchell, SD, and the surrounding area since 1915. We are a 4-generation, family-owned Case IH and New Holland dealer. We are also a dealer for many shortline manufacturers. Scott Supply Co. was founded by L.E. Scott in Mt. Vernon, SD, as an International Harvester dealer. Wally Scott started in 1936. Scott Supply Co. moved to Mitchell in 1962. Current owners Robert Scott started in 1963, John Scott started in 1973, and Chris Scott started in 1994. In 2007, we earned Farm Equipment magazine's prestigious "Dealership of the Year" award.
Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884) invented a reaping machine that stands as the symbol of the mechanical revolution in agriculture. McCormick saw the need for this machine and made the most of it. There were too few farmhands to do the harvesting, so a substitute for hand labor had to be found, and the great stretches of flat, stoneless prairie presented an ideal terrain for the mechanical reaper. McCormick built his first reaper and demonstrated it in 1831 and patented an improved model in 1834. In 1847, he went to Chicago and set up a factory to manufacture reapers. Throughout years of court action and by buying others' patent rights, he established the superiority of his machines and made his company the leader. In 1902, the inventor's company merged with four other leading agricultural machinery manufacturers to form International Harvester Company. This company entered the tractor business in 1903 with an International stationary engine mounted on a chassis. The pulley wheel on the engine engaged a pulley on the chassis, giving a friction drive to the tractor. By 1909, Harvester ranked as the fourth-largest corporation in America and the largest farm equipment monopoly in the world.
Lewis Emmanuel Scott (1884-1965) was born and raised a farmer in Storla, South Dakota, a small community approximately twenty-five miles from the present Scott Supply Company, Incorporated, located just west of Mitchell. He attended a Chicago business college, where he met his wife, and was prepared for his first venture into business selling Buick, Dodge, and Chevrolet automobiles in 1914. His movement from the rural Storla community to Mt. Vernon, South Dakota, in 1916 was believed to have been influenced by his wife, a woman accustomed to the electricity of Illinois. Wallace A. Scott, the third child and first son of Lewis, mentioned that his mother, in order to get to town, would ride a horse ten miles to Letcher, South Dakota. As the story goes, she was caught in a frightful windstorm, and this seemed to end country living. Wally felt his birth might also have influenced his father's movement to the city.
In 1915, Lewis purchased the Helgerson Implement Company's stock in International Harvester Company and the Helgerson building. In these first years, Lewis continued selling automobiles as well as gasoline and farm supplies and carried a full line of farm machinery: Deering and Acme binders, Weber wagons, Keystone disks, International Harvester cultivators, Kentucky seeders, C.B.Q. corn planters, low twentieth century spreaders, Moline plows, and Titan tractors. The Titan 10-20 tractor was the forerunner of the International. From 1914 to 1922, 56,000 Titans were produced with 1920 being the peak year. Wally mentioned that in 1920 and 1921, the years immediately following World War I, economic conditions in the United States worsened. As a result, International Harvester Company shipped many Titan tractors to the dealers, who had not ordered them, and forced them to pay. Lewis was able to sell the tractors he was delivered and pay for them, but Wally said he knew of one dealer in South Dakota who was unable to pay for the Titans and burned his building full of tractors to collect insurance money.
The Great Depression and World War II adversely affected Lewis's business, but he was able to survive both. Although the stock market crash, Black Tuesday, occurred in 1929, the effects were not felt in South Dakota until the 1930's. The Great Depression coupled with the 'Dirty 30's' had Lewis fighting to 'keep his head above water' just as the farmers had done. During World War II, rationing occurred. A letter from Lewis Scott to the War Price and Ration Building in Mitchell on June 20, 1944, contained the following:
As per your form letter of June 12 we are submitting our schedule of service work as follows: At present, however, I haven't any steady hired help. The men I had here are in the army. We repaired some tractors here last winter using farm men which had experience in tractor repairing. We charged $1.00 per hour, the men getting 75 cents and 25 cents for the shop and tools. This is the same price that we charged during the year 1942.
Wallace Andrew Scott (1915- ) graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1933 and completed two years of college by attending South Dakota State University off and on for three years. Being born in 1915, the year Scott Supply Company started, Wally grew up in the business. He remembers the Titan and the horse-drawn machinery of the 1920's but better relates to the Farmall Regular, Farmall H, and Farmall M. The Farmall system of farming meant the motorization of every farm job requiring power, whether drawbar, belt, or power take-off. It meant the speeding up of operations - the finishing of farm work in season - seed beds ready for planting at the most favorable times - more frequent and more efficient cultivation - the saving of both time and labor in the harvesting of various crops - the minimizing of those farm chores which had caused so many men to desert the farm - longer and more enjoyable leisure for everybody connected with the farm. It was an all-purpose, all-crop tractor. It was a farm power plant capable of eliminating the horse, one that made possible the horseless farm. In 1936, Wally joined his father in business as an active partner and helped to remodel the Mt. Vernon building in 1947.
On January 26, 1962, Wally applied for the International Harvester Company dealership in Mitchell, and later that year, the move was made. A suitable building was constructed west of Mitchell, and an adequate inventory of machines and parts were carried at all times. For a short time, both the Mitchell and Mt. Vernon stores were operated, but following Lewis's death in 1965, the Mt. Vernon operation was closed.
Robert Lewis Scott (1943- ) graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1961, and after farming his father's land for one year, attended South Dakota State University for one year. Moving Scott Supply Company from Mt. Vernon to Mitchell encouraged Bob to join his father in 1963, and both he and his brother, John, along with Wally, have expanded the Mitchell building numerous times to compensate for a larger sales territory and the acquisition of different farm equipment lines, such as Ford New Holland (now New Holland) in 1992. John William Scott (1954- ) graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1973 and attended the University of South Dakota for one year before joining Wally and Bob in 1974. Finally, Christopher Lewis Scott (1972- ), son of Robert Scott, represents the fourth generation at Scott Supply Company. Chris graduated from Mitchell Senior High School in 1990 and from Augustana College in 1994 before joining his father and John in 1994.
From the start, Scott Supply Company achieved its goals and received many awards, including being named a 'Star Dealer' before the relocation to Mitchell. In 1966, Scott Supply Company was recognized for its record of fifty years or more in retailing in the farm equipment industry at the annual convention of the Retail Farm Equipment Association of Minnesota and South Dakota. As a result, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Scott appeared on the cover of the Northwest Farm Equipment Journal. In 1976, Scott Supply Company was appointed as an 'XL Dealer' by International Harvester Company. The 'XL Dealer' appointment was the highest form of recognition an International Harvester dealer could earn and symbolized a total commitment to excellence in customer service, product knowledge, business management, merchandising, and employee relations. September 23, 1983, was an honorable day for Scott Supply Company. On this day, Scott Supply presented a mini farm equipment show as part of 'Red Power Progress Days.' An International Harvester company representative was to be on hand to present a review of International equipment progress, and Bob recalled how surprised he was when the company representative turned out to be Don Lennox, President of International Harvester Company. This surprise visit by the top man at International Harvester was unprecedented in the history of the business.
While Scott Supply Company continued to thrive, International Harvester began to fall on hard times. Stiff competition with archrival John Deere, bad relations with organized labor, and a pervasive, arrogant complacency within the company about its unsurpassable market dominance brought International Harvester to the brink of disaster. In fact, while Scott Supply Company was being named one of the top fifty International Harvester dealerships for 1984 in the United States, the 'gold award' status in the prestigious 'XL Excellence in Performance' program, it was announced that Tenneco Corporation had agreed to acquire International Harvester Company and merge it with their J.I. Case division in 1985. This merger spearheaded an industry consolidation trend that continues today, and in August of 1987, the first totally new two-wheel drive tractor, the Magnum, from the merged Case International made its debut.