Farm Horizons, May 2009

Wally Krienke has 37 years with John Deere

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

When it comes to John Deere, Wally Krienke has 37 years under his belt, having started out as a mechanic for Sterner and Zimmerman in Winsted of 1972. He then worked for the former Cokato Implement in 1975, and moved into sales in 1992.

The company, now known as Midwest Machinery, moved into a new building at a new location along Highway 12 just west of Howard Lake, business, despite the slow economy, is slightly above average for Krienke.

Though the new location and facility are a “plus,” expanding from primarily agricultural equipment to include garden and landscape equipment as well, has helped bring in more local customers, Krienke explained.

Providing a variety of equipment is especially beneficial to the business since the needs in the area are so diverse and include not just farmers who use heavy equipment.

With Princeton location that opened March 1, Midwest Machinery Company now has nine locations, each co-owned by Gene Seipel, Curt Weber, and Charlie Swenson.

Krienke works out of the Howard Lake store, and the extent of his sales are usually within a 30-mile radius of it.

Having eight other stores to choose from is convenient for Krienke when it comes time to selling a piece of equipment that the Howard Lake store may not have in stock.

“We sell just about everything,” Krienke said.

Though he mostly deals with agricultural customers, Krienke does work with area municipalities, along with the area school districts, nurseries, private contractors, and the general public.

His busiest selling time is between November and June, but Krienke spends much of the winter making cold calls, visiting with customers, and inquiring about their future needs, he said.

Krienke grew up on a farm in Lester Prairie, and now lives in Howard Lake with his wife, Linda. Together, they have three adult children, Jackie, 21; Brian, 19; and Julie, 18.

They own 38 acres, which is rented to a neighboring farmer.

“I know a lot of people from growing up,” Krienke said, which helps business.

“It’s a good community,” he said.

What Krienke finds most rewarding about his job is meeting people and helping them decide what they will need that will benefit their operation.

“I just like people,” he said, and listening to their stories, both good and bad. Lately, though, there has been a lot of negative talk, especially with the price of milk dropping, as well as commodity prices in general.

“People are struggling to pay their bills,” he said.

“Sometimes,” he said, “you have to have a tough stomach, and try to put the best perspective on it,” Krienke said.

Krienke stresses that he is only one of the members of a whole team at Midwest Machinery.

The parts and service departments help keep the operation going for an individual when equipment breaks down, Krienke said, explaining the technician and mechanics go the extra mile to provide good service.

“It makes my job easier because the customer is going to remember the excellent service we can provide for them when purchasing new equipment,” Krienke said.

Right now, Krienke is most excited about selling the new John Deere Ag Management Solutions line, which uses GPS satellites.

With this equipment, when it’s programmed, the tractor does the majority of the work, Krienke explained.

“It basically drives itself,” he said.

At times, Krienke’s job can get quite hectic, and he appreciates his wife and children for being patient and helping him to keep a positive attitude.

He also appreciates the customers that do business with Midwest Machinery.

“I hope we can keep providing the same business, and even better service in the future,” Krienke said.

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