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Myron Mettler steps down from implement parts service counter

Hutchinson Herald of Menno, South Dakota

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Longtime Mettler Implement employee Myron Mettler retired from his position at the parts counter last week, clocking his final day at the business Saturday, Oct. 31.

The retirement is the culmination of a half-century of helping guide farmers and mechanics through the vast parts cataglogs that helped keep farm equipment of every size and shape in running order for the customers at Mettler Implement.

Mettler was the guest of honor at a farewell reception at the busienss Friday, Oct. 30, and while he said he wasn't sure exactly how he would now fill his time, he was sure he would find something.

Mettler shared the story of his days at Mettler Implement in an article that ran in the Jan. 16, 2013 issue of the Hutchinson Herald. That article is reprinted below.

A look back at 50 years

A half-century ago, Gerold Mettler was preparing to open his implement in what is now the Open Door Cafe building on Fifth Street. But he needed another set of hands to help him with portions of the business, most notably dealing with the many parts that customers needed to keep their equipment running.

That's when Myron Mettler's name came up.

"About six months before (Gerold opened the implement) I helped him pour some cement for a hog barn and did some hammering and nailing," Myron Mettler said in a recent interview with the Hutchinson Herald. Employees at Mettler Implement celebrated his 50 years of service to the company last week.

Myron said he learned many years later that Gerold took the advice of his wife, who said he would need someone to help him with the new venture.

"When they talked about it she told Gerold he was going to need someone to help him with the parts," Myron said. "She said to ask Myron because he was a pretty good worker and in school he was on the honor roll. That's how it all started."

Myron, 71, is a 1959 graduate of Menno High School who grew up on the farm and spent many hours shelling corn and other odd jobs before and after receiving his diploma. He took the opportunity to help start the new venture with his friend and has remained in the same position to the present day.

The operation spent a short time at its Fifth Street location before moving to its present location on the east side of Menno on Highway 18. Thinking back about the old location, Myron said, was a way to look back at how much simpler things were in 1963.

"There were a lot of differences. I can remember when we got our first three air filters," Myron said with a laugh.

A small display of various types of equipment was set up behind the store, but soon the company seized on an opportunity to expand to a more accessible, spacious location. Gerold secured the land on which the current implement sits and the business and its customer base began to grow.

It was a move in the right direction, Myron said.

"There was a lot more space and room for equipment and so on," Myron said.

The business began to expand its range of service, as well. Not long after moving to Highway 18 the business hired its first mechanic, increasing the number of employees to three. Myron continued to man the parts counter, locating the essential equipment the implement's customers had come to rely on to keep their fleets of farm equipment working in the fields.

Myron noted that soon the equipment began to increase in complexity. Much of the equipment he helped service over the years are ancient compared to today's technologically advanced machinery. The more technically advanced the equipment became, the trickier it became to diagnose and repair problems.

"Back then there were no cabs. And now every tractor has a cab and AC and everything else in it," Myron said. "Back then it was just a tractor, basically."

As the implement grew and changed, so did the farmers who relied on it for service. The equipment grew in size from simple 100 horsepower tractors to the field giants of today. Farming in general is bigger, as well, Myron said. Small family farms became larger family farms and the equipment to maintain them grew with their needs.

"Fanning is just bigger now than it used to be. A 100 horsepower tractor used to be a big tractor. Now it's small," Myron said.

The parts counter grew with the needs of the customer, he said. The three air filters with which he started — there were only three basic types at the time — have grown into more than 80 and shelves behind the counter at the Mettler Implement building on Highway 18 are packed with drawers of parts.

"We used to have cards to mark the inventory down. I'd need a lot of that because we had a lot of inventorv. We have a huge inventory," Myron said.

As technology advances, older equipment gets phased out, Myron said. It becomes more and more difficult to find certain parts for outdated equipment, but he does his best to locate what he can even though some companies are abandoning older parts in favor of new ones.

"It's getting (difficult to locate some parts). It doesn't pay for the company to make all those parts because the volume isn't there," Myron said.

While the farming community gradually switches over to more modern equipment, the parts department at the implement did the same, Myron said. He got his first computer to help catalog parts in 1983 — putting the business on the leading edge at a time when computers were just finding their way into the workplace.

"It's all on computer now," Myron said. "It was a little intimidating. It took a little getting used to."

He handled the digital revolution and continued to help customers get their equipment back up and running for another 30 years. He remains the longest tenured employee at the business after his friend and boss Gerold passed away in 2009.

Myron said he has no intention of retiring. He still enjoys the work, the camaraderie with the employees and the friends he's made among the customers over the many decades he's worked there. Retirement is just something he hasn't really given much thought to, he said.

"I don't know. If I get tired of it or they don't want me anymore, I guess that's when I'll retire," he said with a laugh.

He could find other things to do if he wanted. He's been a member in a leadership role with the Menno Community Club for many years and he still helps organize the pancake feed at the Menno Pioneer Power Show at Pioneer Acres every year.

But for now, he's enjoying the start of his second half-century behind the parts counter at one of Menno's most recognizable businesses. It's there he can continue to do one of the things he enjoys most — helping farmers get back in the field.

"(I enjoy) helping the people and trying to keep people going with their equipment," Myron said.

Copyright 2015 Hutchinson Herald, Menno, South Dakota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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