After 39 years with John Deere, Wayne Hansen chooses retirement
“Oh Deere! Wayne Hansen’s retirement is almost here.”
That’s how a flyer is written to promote an open house for Wayne Hansen, a 39-year employee of the John Deere equipment business. The special event will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Dec. 28, at Ag Power Enterprises in Owatonna.
Hansen, a native of the Clarks Grove area, started his first John Deere assignment 39 years ago in 1976 in Hayfield. He worked there 10 years in parts and service managing. He grew up in a green atmosphere with John Deere (JD) equipment on a family farm, located three miles northwest of Clarks Grove.
The eldest of four boys, Hansen learned to drive a tractor at age six and soon learned to navigate a car and pickup truck on the family farm. His three brothers followed suit at early ages.
All Hansen brothers took a liking to farm machinery and helped their father Philip and mother Verdelle with farm chores during their younger days and even in their adult years.
The Hansens had dairy cows, hogs and chickens on their farm.
Prior to entering the farm machinery business with John Deere, Hansen worked six years as a machinist in the Twin Cities. He wanted to leave the larger metropolitan community and locate in a smaller locale. The opportunity to work at a JD dealership in Hayfield then became available.
Hansen next located in Austin with Persinger Equipment and worked there in sales from 1986-96. In 1996 he joined the dealership in Owatonna in sales, and has been there ever since.
Remembering his first sale of John Deere equipment, Hansen said it was made at the Austin dealership to the late Richard Trom of Blooming Prairie. What has been his largest sale? He said he once sold four tractors, a combine and a sprayer to one customer. The price tag was $1.5 million.
Tractors can range in prices up to $500,000, Hansen said. Lawn tractors range from $1,499 and up. The JD inventory of equipment includes tractors, combines, sprayers, tillage equipment, skid loaders, lawn tractors and hay equipment. It is all available at five dealerships managed by Mike Veldman.
Technology has changed agriculture immensely over the years, says Hansen. “Technology changes are happening all the time,” he said.
An example of technology guiding advances in agriculture comes with the GPS (Global Positioning System). Hansen said most farmers now rely on auto steering when planting crops. The only time a stop is required is when the farmer has to fill the planter with more seed, Hansen said.
The farmer who is buying a planter wants something that will put the seed in at an accurate depth and spacing, Hansen emphasized. “They want every seed to work after investing so many dollars in input,” Hansen stated.
Maintenance is a major part of the John Deere business, Hansen says. The shop in Owatonna has an overhead hoist to assist in repair work.
Loyal customers and a professional staff of workers makes Hansen’s job easier, he said. “My job in sales is just a small fraction of being part of a dealership,” he observes. He points to the management team and to workers in the parts, service, clerical and delivery departments as components making a dealership a success.
“It is an absolute necessity to have teamwork for these machines to work well for the customer,” Hansen said.
Hansen said he has had many mentors in his work over the years. His immediate supervisor in sales is brother Kevin, sales manager.
In retirement Hansen says he may dabble in some machining work. He also hopes to continue his hobby interest in cars and motorcycles. Hansen is quite proud of a 1951 hot rod Ford pickup truck he restored. He showed it in Blooming Prairie this past summer and also entered it in shows in Owatonna and Claremont.
Hansen resides in Waseca with wife Nancy, a Lutheran pastor at the North Waseca Lutheran Church in Waseca and at Faith Lutheran Church in Janesville. “She puts in more hours than I do,” Hansen laughs.
Hansen has a son Jeff, who is a machinist in Mankato.