Two companies with long traditions in the machinery and equipment business— one based in Calumet County, the other worldwide—began working together in 2011, and New Holstein is one of the beneficiaries because of that.
When the late Harlan Gruett founded Gruett’s Inc. in 1958 as a 19-year-old, there is no way he could have imagined the growth and development the business would experience throughout the years.
That most recent growth occurred last year when Gruett’s added its New Holstein location to begin selling New Holland equipment. There is something almost lyrical about New Holland being in New Holstein, and Gruett’s is hoping the relationship is music to the ears of area farmers, business owners and residents looking for equipment big and small.
“I think it’s going alright so far,” said Dave Gruett, who is managing the New Holstein location for the family-run business.
Opened Nov. 1
Gruett’s officially opened its New Holstein store on Nov. 1, which is not exactly prime time for the purchase of big equipment as farmers are still finishing up their harvest and winter is approaching. But that gave Gruett’s time to settle in before the calendar turned and farmers began to look at what their equipment needs might be for the coming spring.
Gruett’s also landed New Holland’s skid steer contract during the winter and has already sold some, and Dave said that will be a very nice addition to the New Holstein store for area farmers and industries alike.
Dave said the Gruett’s store in New Holstein came about because New Holland was “aggressively pursuing” Gruett’s to do it. Gruett’s in Potter is primarily a Massey Ferguson dealer for its heavy equipment, and New Holland wanted a separate location—even though Gruett’s had room to expand in Potter, something it has done several times over the years.
The building it is in now in New Holstein at 2310 Calumet Dr. was originally constructed in the 1990s as a Ford dealership. It is an excellent location for Gruett’s as it is right on STH 32/57 and has a large, paved parking lot along the highway for display of its equipment for sale.
The building also was largely ready to
go for Gruett’s, Dave said, other than the installation of two new overhead doors and some cosmetic work in the showroom, including new flooring and ceiling tiles. The spacious shop area behind the showroom allows Gruett’s to service all the equipment it sells as well as any other brands of tractors and equipment.
The showroom currently features equipment displays not just for the farmer. City dwellers in need of weed trimmers, leaf blowers, chain saws and lawn sweepers—perfect for thatching or gravel cleanup—will find them in stock at Gruett’s in New Holstein. There are also several all-terrain vehicles parked in the showroom, representative of Gruett’s full line of powersports equipment used for work or play.
Dave said the amount of equipment on display inside and out in New Holstein is sure to grow, although he said he expects hay and forage equipment sales to be the primary focus in New Holstein. A Customer Appreciation Day open house was held Thursday, March 22 as a way to both say thanks to its customers and to allow area residents to get a look at the new location.
Dave pointed out that anything available at the Potter location can be brought to New Holstein for a customer, and that customers are encouraged to ask if they do not see something in which they might be interested. Gruett’s also sells equipment via its eBay store.
Local names among lines
Among the many lines of equipment carried by Gruett’s are several local names. New Holstein’s own Metko supplies belt feeders and belt or chain conveyors to Gruett’s; Miller Pro rotary rakes and forage blowers from St. Nazianz are sold there; and Gruett’s also carries Chilton Trailers.
Gruett’s also manufactures some of its own equipment at its Potter location, although Dave said agricultural sales continues to be the biggest part of Gruett’s.
Harlan helped guide Gruett’s well along that path before he passed away in the early 1990s, and his family has continued to operate and grow the company. Wife Audrey continues to help out with the business, and their sons Dave, Steve, Jeff and Tom and daughter Chris Lau are all involved in the business as well—as is Chris’ husband, Doug.
Although on a much smaller scale, Gruett’s growth over the years mirrors that of New Holland. The famous Henry Ford was a founder of the company more than 110 years ago, and today New Holland is a leading provider of equipment for both farming and manufacturing in every corner of the world. Its agricultural division continues to be headquartered in Racine.
New Holland is working on a new hydrogen-powered tractor which could be out in two or three years and would revolutionize the heavy equipment industry.
A tractor like that is another thing Harlan could not have envisioned back in 1958.