Headquartered in Holdrege: Ag Businesses Thrive Beyond County

1 Jul 2016

It’s no secret that Phelps County has strong agricultural roots.

The black fertile soil found in this area is named “Holdrege soil,” and the aquifer below provides abundant water supplies.

But, in addition to being an ideal location to grow crops, Holdrege is also a great place to grow an agricultural business.

Many entrepreneurs have sprouted agricultural-related business in Holdrege, and at least six local companies started ag businesses in the area and have branched out to locations around the state and beyond with headquarters remaining in Holdrege.

The leaders of these successful companies say Phelps County has a rich agricultural history and progressive farms that create a supportive business climate for ag-related businesses.

LandMark Implement

Headquarters: 915 Brewster Road, Holdrege

Other Locations: Arapahoe; Beatrice; Elwood; Fairfield; Gothenburg; Hastings; Hebron; Kearney; Lexington; Minden; Red Cloud; Shelton; Superior; Smith Center; Kan.; Marysville, Kan.; Phillipsburg, Kan.

Employees: 420 (55 in Holdrege)

LandMark: The LandMark Implement John Deere Dealership began in 1947 in Holdrege as McClymont Implement and was started by Holdrege resident Clyde McClymont and his son Richard (Dick) McClymont. In the early 1970s, McClymont Implement became the first John Deere dealer to reach $1 million in whole goods sales volume within its territory.

Dick retired in 1985, and his sons, Richard and Ted, took over operations. They first expanded in 1994 with the purchase of the John Deere dealership in Alma. Expansions continued, and in 2006, the company changed its name to LandMark Implement.

Today, the company is still headquartered in Holdrege and has 17 dealership locations, including the Holdrege site.

Ted McClymont said it made sense to locate the headquarters of the business where it all started. It’s a central location and home to some of the “best farmland in the world.”

“Holdrege is just a great progressive community to be in for an ag-related business,” he said.

AgWest Commodities

Headquarters: 415 West 4th Ave., Holdrege

Other Locations: Sutton; Imperial; Gretna; Beatrice; Yuma, Colo.; Paola, Kan.; and Humboldt, Iowa.

Employees: 35

This agricultural commodity business started in owner Steve Knuth’s rural Harlan County home 17 years ago. As business grew and he needed to expand, the Phelps County Development Corporation lured him to Holdrege.

“If it weren’t for a few folks with PCDC, AgWest would have likely ended up with headquarters at Kearney,” Knuth said. “The decision to land here was prompted by encouragement from Kyle Anderson, Roger Allmand and Linda Black.”

PCDC offered gap financing for the move and grant money for an employee incentive package, which solidified his decision to move to Holdrege. In 2012, Ag West built a new headquarters at 415 4th Ave. in Holdrege and again sought a loan with from PCDC’s gap financing program.

Knuth said Holdrege “lies in the heart of some pretty serious agricultural production,” and its central location makes travel easy in any direction.

Knuth also said the quality of life in Phelps County makes it appealing to recruit employees.

“The tremendous health care system, the YMCA and The Tassel are some amazing things for the size of this town,” he said.

Central Valley Irrigation

Headquarters: 1625 East Hwy 6, Holdrege

Other Locations: Kearney and Lexington

Employees: 50 (42 in Holdrege)

Holdrege resident Terry Gerdes started this irrigation company in Holdrege in 1980 to build and service Valley® center pivots. Long-time employee Monty Vonasek purchased the company in 2007. Central Valley expanded to Lexington in 2006 and then to Kearney in 2012. Also in 2006, Central Valley Electric was formed at the Holdrege location.

Central Valley services 6,000 irrigation systems in south-central Nebraska and north-central Kansas.

“Holdrege is a progressive community in a tremendous ag climate,” Vonasek said. “It’s a civic-minded community with a strong church base.”

Vonasek describes the people as an asset of this area. Vonaek is one of the civic-minded people in the community, giving of his time and treasure to many community projects.

“Central Valley Irrigation is committed to supporting community and area programs and activities,” Vonasek said. “The company has been blessed and is dedicated to strengthen our community to allow future generations to enjoy the quality of life we have experienced.”

Holdrege Irrigation

Headquarters: 2011 4th Ave., Holdrege

Other Locations: Lexington, Alda and Ravenna

Employees: 90

Lamar Schmidt started Holdrege Irrigation, a Reinke irrigation dealership, in 1991 with three employees. His son, Tim Schmidt, now oversees the company’s operations, serving as vice president. The company has also expanded its services to include Holdrege Well Service, Holdrege Electric and Holdrege Trailer Sales.

Larmar Schmidt also described Holdrege as a “progressive” community.

“It’s a great community to live and raise children in,” he said. “Holdrege is really centrally located in a huge irrigated area. I’ve been able to find quality employees locally, which is worth a lot.”

Lamar credits part of the company’s success to “a lot of great customers who have supported us and told their friends and neighbors about us.”

Wells Flying Service

Headquarters: 1425 Brewster Road, Holdrege

Other Locations: Ogallala

Employees: 8 (varies seasonally)

Wells Flying Service was founded in 1958 by local farmer Harley Wells as he started spraying because of a high demand to rid fields of root worm and other pests that could only be treated by air. The company has evolved into a full service aerial and ground application business. The company is still owned and operated by the Wells family, including Dave Wells and his sons, Ryan, Nick and Randy.

Dave said the company expanded to Ogallala five years ago because there was a need for aerial spraying services there.

“There wasn’t anyone spraying out of Ogallala at that time,” he said. “We just thought there was an opportunity out there.”

Wells described the area between Phelps County and east toward York as the “heart of Nebraska ag.”

“We have progressive farmers and great customers,” Wells said. “It’s a very stable agricultural economy. I don’t know if we could have a better locale than being based in Holdrege.”

Nebraskaland Aviation

Headquarters: 1002 Brewster Road, Holdrege

Other Locations: Alma, Holstein, Phillipsburg, Kan.

Nebraskaland Aviation also provides aerial and ground application of chemicals and fertilizers for farmers as well as soil sampling, infrared imaging and now mosquito treatment. The company was started in Holdrege in 1975 and is now owned by Tye Marquardt.

Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District (CNPPID)

Headquarters: 415 Lincoln St., Holdrege

Other Locations: Gothenburg, Bertrand, Ogallala (Kingsley Dam)

Employees: 103

While Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District is not a business, it is an important part of the ag sector, and it is headquartered in Holdrege. Central’s work of diverting surface water for irrigation has resulted in abundant groundwater supplies for Phelps County farmers and industries.

CNPPID is the largest irrigation district in Nebraska and oversees hydro-power generation and supplying supplemental irrigation water to more than 110,000 acres of farm ground using Platte River Basin water.