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I'd like to share with you my Big Adventure I had yesterday, 2-19-10. But first, I have to give you some background information.

For the past couple of years I have been cruising the Chicago area Craigslist, looking at Lawn and Garden tractors and accessories listed there. It was interesting how many showed up in the area that my daughter lives. I never gave it much thought that many of those were being posted by a business from the next town over from her residence. I would look at them, wish I could afford the ones that really caught my eye, and move on to other listings.

Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago. I was reading an answer to someones question, posted by Sergeant. He was listing a couple of LGT salvage yards where the OP could find an item he was searching for. Out of curiosity, I visited those sites to see what they had to offer. Much to my surprise, some of the for sale items listed on one of the websites were listed on Craigslist. I checked out their address and found them to be in the general vicinity of where we were going to be on Saturday, the 19th. Hmmm, the mind started working! Maybe I could somehow sneak past this place and take a look for myself. Now, how was I going to justify this to my wife?

It turned out my wife and daughter were going to go "baby shopping", as our daughter, Annie (member here), is about 7 months pregnant. It had been "decided" that her husband, Andrew, and I were going to be left alone to fend for ourselves, and find some sort of entertainment to pass the day away. (Wow! Big mistake, huh?) So, for the past week, I toyed with the idea of calling the place, Tractor Sales, and telling them that I'd like to drop by Saturday afternoon and browse around a bit, as well as take some photos and put together a small article about their salvage operation and share it with the members here. I didn't know if it would be better to call ahead, and have them possibly be suspicious of my intentions, or just drop by, introduce myself, and let them decide then and there if I was being legitimate or trying to be a shyster of some sort. I decided on the latter, and figured I would let nature take it's course.

On the big day, Andrew and I left their house and went to Menard's to pick up some items he needed for a project he was undertaking. After dropping them back off at their house, we headed off to Hobart, Indiana. We had a general idea of where the business was situated in town, but didn't know exactly how to get there. Wow, it was interesting in itself working our way thru town. We knew about where we had to be, but getting there was another story. Railroad tracks, creeks, short narrow streets, etc, all added to the anticipation. Finally, we found ourselves on East 6th St. Getting closer by the minute. Then, there was this big Quonset type building surrounded by a fence. 906 was on the front of the building. The gate was open and there were people inside the yard. An older, authoritative gentleman waved to Andrew to "Drive on in here!", so we did. Andrew rolled his window down, the fellow walked up to his side of the truck, and that is when the fun started! He immediately made us feel welcome with his one-liners and wisecracks. I got out of the truck, walked around and introduced myself. Told him I wanted to stop by and browse a bit, but also explained that I was involved with this website and would like to do a short interview of him and his business, and maybe take some pictures. I half expected him to be a bit suspicious, but if he was it didn't show. He was immediately agreeable. Out came his wallet and Andrew and I were each given 2 of his business cards. He told us he learned long ago that business cards do not do you any good in your wallet. Never give out 1, give out 2 and ask the recipient to "pass along the extra one". Then we were told a bit about a Chevy 2500 pickup, being operated by his son, that was pulling out of the drive with a trailer carrying a couple of John Deere LGT's. He explained how the Chevy handles the loaded trailers better than the Fords, and how hard it was to find the exact model Chevy he wanted. (Lesson #1 and #2: Mr. Roger Grubb loves to share his experiences with anyone that is receptive.) When the truck and trailer pulled out, the smaller outdoor storage area was clearly exposed. Wow! Pictures do not do justice to seeing row after row of John Deere mowers. (From now on, I am just going to say LGT's, as 99% of the machines were Deere.) And this was only one small leg of the yard. After that, he invited us to "walk this way" for our guided tour of their facility. As we got to the end of their building the main yard came into view. Not just LGTs laying around hit or miss, in a heap, but rather layed out numerically, from the smaller units (STX38's, 100 series, 200 series, 300's, 400's). Here are some of the photos I took from different angles, while standing in pretty much 1 spot:













And on with the tour. We entered the building and continued on. We worked our way thru their small office and on into what would best be described as the mechanical/refurbish area. There was a gent working in there, painting a grill for an LGT that was presently being refurbished, either for a customer or for their inventory. We were introduced to Eric, who, after a greeting, went back to his work. I think this would be the perfect time to inject my findings on the personalities of the 4 people we met and talked to while at their facility. They could not have been a more pleasant and genuinely nice group of people. We were truly made to feel welcome during our visit, and like I said, they didn't know us from the Man in the Moon.

And, on with the tour! We saw decks, snow blowers, tillers (along with their Mule drives!), accessories, hoods, wheels, transmissions, etc. Mowers were up on platforms with another group below them. We later learned that the building had originally housed a window and door manufacturing company that had gone out of business quite a few years ago. I would estimate the building as 200 ft long and probably 70 feet wide, but that is only a guess. Anyway, he had started his business out in one end of the building and quickly expanded to consume the entire structure. I would guess he could have filled at least 2 more similar sized structures. Here are some more photos to help you visualize what we saw:


















Here is a room full of 110's. Guess there is one in here that is a highly sought after model. Go for it, you restorers!

After our tour, we sat down in his office for about 15 minutes for some more socializing. His stories were very interesting, and most held a moral, a lesson on how their business was run. I truly came away from this visit with a great appreciation for their team. I truly felt that they operated their business the way they used to be run. You do right by the customer. Even if you don't "have to", you do it because you personally know that it is the right thing to do. Your word is sacred and you stand by your word. There is a great big lesson to be learned there. Many big corporations could stand to take a few "customer service" pointers from this small operation.

I am really glad that I was able to spend an hour or so with this gentleman and his crew. I learned that his background included schooling in either the ministry or religious studies, and it showed in his demeanor. A nicer guy you will not meet.



Should you ever need an item and decide to try them out, be sure to mention that you learned of their operation "from the guy that stopped by and took all the pictures".
 

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Amazing, Brad!

This just has to be the best kept secret in JD Salvage garden tractors history (until now :)). And, another great story to your growing collection of interviews with photographs too...

Thanks for sharing.
 

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That is quite the place there Brad, thanks for telling us the story! I bet it was a lot of fun to tour and see.

Deere' heaven!
 

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Great story and pics!

I wish there were a large salvage yard like that in my area; it would sure come in handy for finding some of

those hard to find parts with such a huge selection! Thanks again for sharing, Brad!;)
 

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Thanks for sharing that Brad! :cool:



I would have trouble leaving there with only a small part. It's probably a good thing they are six hours away from me. :D
 

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Yeah, nice write up, but, um, forgot, congratulations to Annie and Andrew as well! And to you and your wife the grandparents to be!
 
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