It doesn’t take much in a small town for word to get around.
Bob Landis, owner of Landis Ag in Colman, had a cake in his lap this past Wednesday before he could even think much about the fact that it was his last official day on the job. The cake and the longtime customers that brought it in, thanked him for 31 years of great business.
“I’m relieved,” an emotional Landis said. “It’s time. I’ll be 74 next month. It’s going to be a great opportunity for the boys and our employees. It’s going to be a good opportunity for our customers as well, because they have a lot of programs that are going to benefit them,” Landis said.
They, is Agtegra.
The large-scale South Dakota-based cooperative defines itself as “an innovative, farmer-owned grain and agronomy cooperative with more than 6,600 active member-owners in North Dakota and South Dakota.”
The company offers grain, agronomy and energy services, aerial application services, feed, ag technology and precision ag hardware and software products and services. Agtegra has 62 locations throughout the region; its closest shops until now have been in Woonsocket and Huron.
Company officials approached the Landis’ about taking over their family-run business about four months ago, brothers Jason and Justin said. The three of them, after some heart-to-heart talks, agreed that they really couldn’t ask for a better situation.
“The first thing we asked the company was about our employees,” said Landis, “and they said, ‘we want every one.’”
Bob Landis started the business in 1991, after leaving the Colman Elevator. He began by selling chemicals out of the back of his pickup truck. Jason went to school to learn custom applications a few years later and joined the business. Justin has been on staff in one way or another since high school. The three, together, have grown the business that sits along Highway 34 just on the eastern edge of town ever since.
“Hopefully everybody is happy with what we’ve done,” Landis said, as he fought back the tears. “We tried our best. We worked a lot of hours. I’m proud of the business we’ve built.”
Justin, also emotional, had a tough time looking at his dad on the other side of the table.
“I’m sad he won’t be here in the day-to-day anymore. It’s a good opportunity for him, we’re excited. But we’re sad at the same time. It’s the end of an era. I’m not going to be working anymore with my dad….”
Landis added that it’s tough anymore to be a small, independent business. He said that as an independent small retailer, they just can’t offer the same sort of discounts and financing especially, that the larger companies do. It’ll be good for the customer, he emphasized.
He’s ready for the transition.
“Nothing really should change other than a different name outside,” said Landis. “They are keeping all of our employees. Jason and Justin will be running it, only now they’ll have more options to give our farmers.”
As for where you may catch up with Landis (and Gus, his English Bulldog sidekick) next?
He’s not entirely sure where retirement may lead him, and he regrets that his wife, Pat, isn’t here for them to enjoy this time together. The two of them loved to travel together. Pat sadly passed away in 2017.
You may still see him around the shop, and he knows he’ll stay busy. If anything is for certain, Landis said you’ll most likely find him cheering on the Hawks girls volleyball and basketball teams. He plans to be rooting for and spending as much time as possible with his granddaughters there and spending as much time as possible with his other grandchildren while he can.