|8/12/2019 1:59:00 PM|
Glen and Denise Francis of Windom started their GDF business in January of 1994
It all started with just a couple of Bobcats and a single sales person. In January of 1994, when GDF opened at 73 24th Street (where Smith Appliance now operates), Glen and Denise Francis were not sure where the venture would lead.
They had operated their Windom ag business for some time, but this was different. "It was something that would keep our employees busy year-around," Glen recalled. "It reached a different market than what we had," Denise added.
When they applied for the Bobcat dealership, Glen and Denise knew there was plenty of competition with dealerships in St. James, Jackson, Worthington and Slayton.
When asked what they knew about the business, Glen grinned and replied: "Nothing." However, the Francises knew it was a good line of equipment. "When people talk about skid loaders, they say 'Bobcat,' no matter what brand it is," Denise said. "So why not go with the one that has that name."
The first year of GDF Glen chuckled some more as he recalled GDF's first year. "I was the one and only salesperson, so I worked my ag job for 40 hours per week and worked my GDF job for 20 to 40 hours per week. We had one service guy. Things were slow like they are with any new business.
"But we were fortunate because we did not have the overhead and all of the startup expenses that a normal setup might have. We shared a facility with our ag business." In that first year, Glen and Denise gained substantial product knowledge on all of the different machines.
"It didn't take long to realize that we needed a line of trailers, also, to transport the Bobcats, whether it was for rentals, or delivery for sales," Glen said. "We started building our own trailers, which kept our people busy during the off season."
From there, GDF added more trailer lines, such as Aluma and Midsota. Other things were added as well, including the Arctic Spa hot tubs. In 1999, GDF made a key move as it started selling Toro equipment. "The Bobcat line and Toro line have been very good to us," Glen said.
Along with the growth in product options, the GDF staff has grown as well. The business has three people who work strictly for GDF and four or five who work for both GDF and Ag Builders. Jeremy Green is the GDF sales manager. Brad Burmeister and Nicole Inman are also heavily involved from the parts, service and office side of the business.
The move One of the best moves, Glen and Denise say, was their decision to relocate both GDF and Ag Builders to the former Towlerton Motor Company building at the north junction of Highways 60 and 71. Today, the indoor showroom is packed with Toro equipment at GDF's current headquarters.
It's an enclosed, air-conditioned place where people can stop in during any type of weather and "kick the tires," so to speak. "Our sales, parts and service work has really turned the corner," Glen said. "I've always wanted a business that had a lot of walk-in traffic.
It's wonderful when a business is easy to find and to see new faces walk in the door. "In the ag business, a lot of time is spent traveling to the customer." So, what lies ahead for GDF? "We are constantly trying to grow our business," Glen said. "We hope that the radius of our business grows for sales, parts and service."
In the meantime, they will continue to follow Glen's philosophy: "If we do a great job of taking care of our customer, our customers will do a great job of taking care of us. "It has been a fun ride and we don't look forward to it ending. So we will ride for awhile."
This is a paid article, run as part of the June 2019 Progress Edition