on Friday, March 18, 2022
March 18, 2022 -
Simcoe and Courtland Teams Together – A family legacy 48 years in the making
As preparations on our Norwich facility near completion, we are looking forward to bringing our Courtland and Simcoe teams together. But actually, the history of the two teams working together already, goes right back to the very beginning.
In 1974 John and Dick Scholten (2 of 5 Scholten brothers), started Scholten Farm Equipment in Courtland the first John Deere dealership in the area. John was the General Manager and looked after Sales, Dick was the Treasurer and was in charge of Parts. John Byl was brought on as a technician and eventually made Service Manager.
The other 3 brothers – Ernie, Henry (Sr) and George (SR) were helping their parents run a bakery in Norwich. A year or two after the new John Deere business began in Courtland, Ernie joined John and Dick to help with Sales and eventually became Sales Manager.
By 1978 things were going well with the business and they decided they needed to expand. They closed down the family bakery and brothers Henry Sr and George Sr joined the group. A second location in Simcoe was opened in 1979. Henry Sr (the oldest of the brothers) started as Store Manager, and George Sr worked in parts.
Not everyone agreed about the expansion at first, perhaps even John Deere. Back then, John Deere would offer 2 types of contracts – either as a full sales and service outlet or as a Service Centre. By being a Service Centre only – the building was restricted, they weren’t allowed to build it with windows or have any new equipment on display. Regardless, from the very beginning the two locations worked together to serve customers in the region.
The limitations in the contract lent to a slow start in Simcoe – but as time went on the business grew and eventually Scholten’s Farm Equipment began selling ag and turf equipment from its Simcoe location. The Simcoe store began to thrive despite the tough farming industry in the 80s because of its good customer service and catering to unique orchard, tobacco and vegetable producers in the area. Even though John Deere didn’t offer one from the factory, Scholten’s worked to find a solution for orchard customers needing a tractor with a cab. They had a local supplier build cabs that they installed on the original 30 series tractors. They maybe weren’t the prettiest, but they worked.
The business continued to grow, and in 1992 the Simcoe location struck a milestone deal with local tobacco producer John Malo – who purchased eight 2955 tractors from salesman Bill Stubbe. It was a big deal, and was featured in the local paper.
In 1993 Scholten’s continued to expand by adding a location in Burford, that was led by Al Ficzere who joined the organization from John Deere. Al was very well known and respected in the area and by his counterparts at John Deere. Through the 90’s Scholten’s had continued success, leading up to the merge with Ayr Tractor in 2000 to form AgraTurf Equipment Services.
Henry, George, Dick and John all remained involved in the business well into the 2000’s, until about 2005. Ernie remained active in the dealership until the spring of 2010.
Today, there are still many Scholten family members that play key roles in the organization. Henk Scholten (son of George Sr) is the current Store Manager for Simcoe and Courtland – and is leading the way forward to the new location as Store Manager of Norwich. Henk started with the organization in 1992 as an apprentice/set-up/delivery man. Over the years he’s spent time in various roles in parts, Parts Manager, Sales, and Service Manager. We are very thankful for Henk’s leadership and all his efforts to bring the two stores together in Norwich.
Henk’s brother George (Jr), started in 1984. Following in his father’s footsteps, George has been a cornerstone in the parts department. George is currently Parts Manager for both locations, and also served various roles in the organization over the years including Store Manager in Courtland. George’s expertise in Parts is treasured and respected by staff and customers alike. We very much appreciate George’s passion and efforts in the development of the new parts facilities and capability in Norwich.
Henry (P) Scholten – son of founder John Scholten has been with the organization since 1988. Starting as a small engine apprentice, Henry found he enjoyed working with customers more than making repairs – so a career in Sales it has been for him! Henry has served in various roles in the Sales Department at several locations including a term as Sales Manager in Hickson (when as part of Agraturf) in the early 2000s. Today in Courtland, Henry remains a key resource for customers and staff, helping to bring the latest in John Deere technology to improve their operations.
Further, when you visit the new facility in Norwich, you’ll find a new generation of Scholten family members lending a hand. Hendrik Scholten has recently joined the team in Parts, Maaike Van Lagen (nee Scholten) is a Service Coordinator, and Geesje Scholten will be joining to assist with the store admin team.
We are thankful for the legacy of service and dedication to the John Deere brand and assisting customers that all of our Simcoe and Courtland staff have provided over the years. We have a great team of employees who are committed to working together to provide ‘best-in-Canada’ level support.
We look forward to continuing to serve customers in Norfolk, Brant and Oxford, one of the most unique and diverse production areas in all of Canada, from our new Norwich facility.