The Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) recently announced the appointment of the 2016-17 Equipment Dealers Foundation (EDF) officers and board members. Each of these eight individuals previously served as national chair of the EDA (formerly NAEDA) board of directors and currently owns and operates equipment dealerships throughout North America. Joining the EDF board are Tom Nobbe (chair), Blaine Bingham (vice chair), Roger Gjellstad, Lester Killebrew, Bob Frazee, Jim Meinhardt, John Fleet and Brian Carpenter.
Tom Nobbe is a third-generation owner of Wm. Nobbe & Co., founded in 1907. Since becoming majority stockholders in 1989, he and his cousin Brian have led the company to tremendous growth and expansion. They currently offer John Deere farm machinery in seven locations in two states: Illinois and Missouri. He and his wife Jane reside in Waterloo, Ill., and their sons Brad and Jared represent the fourth generation to work in the family business. Tom was national chair of EDA in 2014.
Blaine Bingham is president and CEO of Bingham Equipment, founded by his parents Norm and Audrey Bingham in 1955. Bingham Equipment has 10 locations throughout Arizona, serving construction, agriculture and compact equipment customers. The company’s primary lines include Bobcat, Case Construction, Kubota and New Holland. Blaine and his wife Barbara reside in Mesa, Ariz., and their son Brant represents the third generation to work in the family business. Blaine was national chair of EDA in 2015-16. His father Norm was national chair in 1986.
Roger Gjellstad has been actively involved in the equipment industry since he graduated from North Dakota State University with a B.S. in agriculture. Roger began working at Stanley Equipment in 1974 and purchased the company from its original owner, Stanley Wright, in 1976. Roger is now the president of Plains Ag, with 10 Case IH stores in western North Dakota and eastern Montana. Roger and his wife Renae have three children and seven grandchildren. Roger was national chair of EDA in 2011.
Lester Killebrew is the chairman of SunSouth, LLC, the product of the 2006 merger of Columbus Tractor and Machinery Co., Deep South Tractor Co., Early Tractor Co., Henry Farm Center, Inc., and WENCO Group. Lester grew up in the equipment industry learning from his father, a Massey Ferguson dealer. In 1969, Lester started his first company, a John Deere dealership. In the ‘80s, battling a struggling economy, Lester started ValCom, a computer and telecommunications company that he ran out of his dealership. SunSouth, LLC, a John Deere dealer, now operates 21 locations in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Lester and his wife Catherine have two sons and a daughter. Lester was national chair for EDA in 2010.
Bob Frazee has been a partner in Cazenovia Equipment Company (CEC) since 1975 when he joined his father-in-law Larry Love, who founded the company in 1961. Two of Bob’s sons joined the company in 2003, carrying on a 50-plus-year family tradition. CEC is a John Deere dealer with nine stores in central and northern New York. Bob also runs CEC Energy (formerly CEC Wind Power), founded in 2010 to install wind turbines across New York. The company was created after a tornado ripped through Greensburg, Kan., and the town decided to rebuild with LEED-certified buildings and other green initiatives. Bob was national chair for EDA in 2006.
Jim Meinhardt owns KanEquip, Inc., a dealership focused on agriculture and light industrial equipment. After owning his own dealership for almost 30 years, Jim merged with another business owner in the 1990s to create KanEquip. KanEquip has 10 locations: nine in Kansas and one in Nebraska. Jim enjoys restoring antique farm equipment, cars and toys. His hobby turned into a collection, which is now housed in a museum in Wamego, Kan. Jim was national chair for EDA in 2005.
John Fleet is the president of Fleet Brothers, Inc., a family-run business founded in 1954. The company specializes in a full line of Agco products, including Massey Ferguson and Gleaner. John and his son John Ira also sell and service Gehl, Kinze, Ferris, Bush Hog and more. Fleet Brothers is a two-store operation in Hartfield and Tappahannock, Va. John and his son Matthew are also equity partners in James River Equipment, LLC, a 19-store John Deere Ag operation in Virginia and North Carolina that is headquartered in Ashland, Va. John and his wife Cookie have two sons and one daughter. John was national chair for EDA in 2004.
Brian Carpenter is the president and general manager of Champlain Valley Equipment, a New Holland, Case IH and Kubota dealership in Vermont. Champlain Valley Equipment was founded in 1970 by Russell Carpenter, and Brian took over in 2001, growing the business to five locations. Brian and his wife Nanette have two children: one boy and one girl. Brian is a veteran and served in the army as well as in the Vermont National Guard, eventually earning the title assistant adjutant general for Vermont. Since his retirement from service in 2014, Brian has been elected to his town’s selectboard and has had more time to spend with his family and focus on his business. Brian is EDA’s current national chair.
“I am extremely pleased and honored to welcome these eight individuals to the foundation board,” said Rick Lawhun, EDA president & CEO. “With their wealth of experience and knowledge, they will be true assets to the foundation and EDA. I appreciate their continued commitment to the industry and look forward to working with them. It’s going to be a wonderful experience!”
Established in 1988, the Equipment Dealers Foundation provides funding for scholarships to meet the equipment industry’s need for training resources and temporary assistance for dealerships and their employees who have been affected by natural disasters.