June 25, 2007

Lundeens celebrate 50 years

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Dennis Lundeen of Lundeen Implement in Cokato most enjoyed meeting people in his 50 years selling farm equipment and autos in the business.

People came from miles around to buy tractors from the business, which started in 1957. Lundeen remembers a farmer from north of Willmar in particular. The man still retained his Norwegian accent.

Lundeen and the man dickered back and forth over a tractor price, and finally settled on a deal. The man sat back with a sigh of relief, and said, “Now we can ‘wisit,’” Lundeen recalled.

Lundeen Implement is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Saturday, June 30. Even though Lundeen is retired as of 2005, he’s still involved in the business. He stays so busy, his wife, JoAnn, often jokes he’s not really “retired,” Lundeen said.

His son, Jerry, and his wife, Cheryl, run the business now.

Lundeen, a Cokato native, was raised on a farm. “I had a love for farm machinery,” he said, adding he collected antique tractors.

He also had a pilot’s license. Lundeen served in the Army the final 18 months of World War II.

Lundeen loved selling almost as much as he loved machinery.

“I think salesmanship is in my blood,” he said.

Lundeen had been looking through his sales records recently in preparation for the upcoming anniversary, and found a time when the six-year average was 126 tractors sold a year. The Cokato area was full of farms then, and people were buying farm machinery right and left, he said.

The most challenging part of running a farm machinery business is keeping a balanced inventory. Lundeen tried to always have 35 varieties of tractors in different sizes and prices on hand.

“It worked out quite well,” Lundeen said.

Lundeen and his first wife, Lucille, who died of cancer a few years ago, purchased their first home in Cokato in 1950. Lundeen was working for Nelson Motors in Dassel, selling Chrysler Plymouths, International trucks, Massey Harris and New Holland equipment, he said.

In 1956, the Lundeens bought the property where the business is today. He started the implement business in 1957 with a small 14-foot by 14-foot office building, Lundeen said.

The Lundeens built the present shop and office in 1967. The Lundeens’ son, Jerry; daughter, Gwen, and her husband, Dave Rien of Cokato; worked in the business as well.

Lundeen has had a motor vehicle dealers license since the ‘70s, he said.

In 1974, the Lundeens bought the property where Dahlin’s Farm and Home is now. Elroy and Betty Dahlin, and Lundeen, started the Cokato Tractor Salvage business.

The next year, Lundeen built the first new building at the tractor salvage business, and leased it to the company. Lundeen sold his share in the business and the real estate to the Dahlins in 1998.

Lundeen also farmed along Wright County Road 3, north of Cokato. He grew corn and beans and raised beef cattle there.

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