In 1977, after an 8-year stint with John Deer and a long-term project that took him into over 100 dealerships across the U.S. and Canada, Don Van Houweling realized the dealer world was where he would be a better fit. With the help of a John Deere territory rep, he met Barney Wall (the Wall in Van Wall Equipment) who took Don on as a junior partner.
Today, the 2016 Farm Equipment Dealership of the Year has 25 locations (16 of them ag), and all three of Don’s sons — Mike, Matt and Mark —are involved in the business. Van Wall’s focus on the aftermarket business has been key to its success from the beginning, and what Don credits in helping him survive as a young dealer in the 1980s.
In reflecting on the biggest lesson Barney taught him, Don says, “No. 1 is to put the customer first and understand that if you can help the customer be successful, you won’t have to worry about your business being successful.”
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