Pauls Valley Democrat
A change of ownership for one Pauls Valley business will ensure its customers can keep coming back without skipping a beat.
It also means the end of a legacy for the Agee Equipment Company. Third generation owner Dave Agee decided to sell the area staple in February to Ardmore based Pettit Machinery Inc.
Not a decision made lightly as it had managed to stick around for 77 years.
Agee’s has adapted from a day when mules pulled farm equipment to a world where customers come from all walks of life.
“I grew up in the business so it was the only thing I ever knew,” said Agee. “We’re proud we were able to keep the business going for a long period of time.”
The business was originally bought for its hardware at a location downtown. It has grown into the dealership people know today along US Highway 77.
The biggest reasons motivating the sale of the business came down to Agee’s son Jason. Jason was reaching a point where he wanted to try other things career-wise.
The deal with Pettit was something that came to fruition after quite a few attempts by its owner over the past 2-3 years. After several offers were exchanged in 2013, an agreement was reached in December.
“It was a pleasure to work with him, but it was hard to say goodbye to what was our baby,” said Agee. “I will miss getting up in the morning and going there… I was the first one getting there and the last to leave.”
Agee’s accomplishment of keeping the business as a family entity is impressive. The norm for the past 25 years has been to join some kind of chain/conglomerate.
It was a dedication going back to when he first started working there full-time in the 1960s.
He even went so far as to build the house where he lives now within view of the business. This meant they could be more accessible to their customers during hours that many others would be closed.
By selling and meeting numbers set by John Deere, Agee was able to maintain his independence. He also maintained a customer satisfaction rating even as competition from larger groups made it a challenge.
“We could have stayed there as long as we wanted to,” said Agee, noting how they turned down several offers. “The last couple of years have been really fantastic.”
At the end of the day, there is one item in the agreement that will at least keep part of Agee’s legacy intact. That is allowing his employees who were there at the time of the sale keep their employment.
Agee must now find way to fill his time that isn’t work related. He plans to see all the places he couldn’t when the family’s vacations were limited to the winter months. There is a good portion of the northern United States he is interested in and will take advantage of it in summer months ahead.
“It’s just been a family business for that many years,” said Agee. “It was bittersweet.”