First new dealer in years will help keep money in Clark County, farm bureau says.

Clark County will get its first new farm equipment dealer in more than seven years, a move that will add up to 15 jobs.

Farmers Equipment Inc., which has 52 employees in four Ohio locations, will open a new dealership in South Charleston early 2014.

The Case IH Agriculture dealership purchased a nearly 5-acre plot of land at 140 S. Church St. for $120,000 at the end of December, according to Clark County Auditor’s Office records.

It will be South Charleston’s first farm dealership in about 30 years, and Clark County’s first in about seven, said Larry Timmons Jr., South Charleston resident and president of the Clark County Farm Bureau.

“It will be good to have an equipment dealership back in Clark County,” Timmons said.

Farmers Equipment opened in Urbana in 2004 with nine employees. Now, it has four locations — Urbana, Elida, New Hampshire and London. The London location only sells parts and will be moved to the new South Charleston location.

When the new store opens next year, the company will hire 10 to 15 people, said Todd Channell, co-owner of Farmers Equipment.

“If you look at a map, South Charleston is a major hub of agricultural activity in the state,” Channell said.

According to the Farm Bureau, Clark County is in the top 10 counties in corn and soybean production in Ohio.

“That’s why we want to go there,” Channell said. “We have a lot of our customer base in South Charleston and Madison County.”

Timmons said having a dealership will provide competition to other neighboring dealers such as John Deere and may cause more competitive pricing.

“And we’re trying to keep money local,” he said.

Farmers Equipment also is expanding and improving its Urbana headquarters at 1749 E. U.S. Highway 36. Channell said the business is building some more office space and improving its showroom.

“We’re adding more equipment and have a few recent hires at this store,” Channell said.

Farmers Equipment is unique in that many of the customers — from Clark, Madison and Champaign counties — are also stakeholders in the business, Channel said. Rather than having one owner, the business is owned by a group of people who hold stock in the company and there is a board of directors.

Channell said the business has been “insulated” from the economic downturn as agriculture is still strong in the state.

“We go as farmers go, and the last few years have been good for farmers,” Channell said.

Although there are fewer farmers, farms have gotten larger, and demand for grain in overseas markets have buoyed the farm business, he said.

According to Timmons, one out of seven jobs in Ohio is related to agriculture in some way, whether its in the food industry, equipment dealerships or actual farms.

“Agriculture is the number one business in the state of Ohio,” Timmons said.

Many dealers, who are have contracts with major manufacturers such as Case IH have seen a push for consolidation like many businesses in a down economy, but they are getting bigger in size.

“Dealers want to get bigger,” Channell said. “This was intended to be one store, but we are seeing places to expand.”

And Clark County is one of those places.

“Clark County people are sharp in business acumen and are progressive, nice people to do business with,” Channell said.