Owner says Holy Cross business will remain open despite losing the 40-year affiliation.

Willis Schmitt heard the speculation

Schmitt Implement, an agricultural staple in rural Dubuque County, was closing its doors for good.

An empty sign frame stands in front of Schmitt Implement in Holy Cross, Iowa.

Schmitt cleared up the rumors Friday in an interview with the TH, saying his business would remain open in Holy Cross without the John Deere affiliation.

John Deere officials wrote to Schmitt, stating that Dec. 30, 2009, would be the last day he could sell its new product lines.

The notice ended a 40-year relationship between Schmitt and Deere.

Schmitt said Deere told him his business had not met a 40 percent market-share goal in Dubuque County.

The goal was "impossible" to reach for a business that averaged between 10 and 15 percent market share, Schmitt said.

He said he believes Deere wanted to dump Schmitt Implement from its arsenal of dealerships.

"It got to the point where they wanted to get rid of us, and there was no way to get rid of us besides (the issue) of market share," Schmitt said.

Deere officials did not immediately return a request for comment.

Schmitt was adamant that his track record with Deere was clean and that every payment arrived on time.

"We did not do anything wrong in 40 years," Schmitt said.

Schmitt opened his business in February 1970, just months after signing a contract with Deere to sell its product line.

The 79-year-old Schmitt said he is searching for new brands to sell. He will continue to sell used Deere equipment.

News of Deere's departure was surprising to one of Schmitt's longtime customers.

"I think John Deere is making a mistake," said Sherrill farmer Marvin Freiburger, who has done business with Schmitt for 40 years. "The implement will have new equipment in competition with Deere.

"I think it's wrong."

Schmitt said legal action against Deere is "under consideration," but a final decision has not been made.