By Morgan McCollow, Contributing Writer, Journal News – Spencerville, OH
S.I. Distributing was started by a farmer who wanted innovative products and loved tinkering, and that’s what the company still does 40 years later.
In the late-1970s, Joe Whitney, a grain farmer, was the owner of Spencerville Implement — a John Deere and a short line dealership in Spencerville. As a farmer, Whitney always looked for innovative ways to improve his farm equipment, which led to the formation of S.I. Manufacturing in 1979. This new company manufactured tools that improved the current farm equipment.
As a result of the Farm Crisis of the 1980s that brought high-interest rates, low crop prices, and more negative effects to the John Deere dealership, Whitney made the decision to close the dealership in 1986.
Whitney kept S.I. Manufacturing going, continuing to add on new innovative products to sell. Shortly thereafter, S.I. Manufacturing became the first U.S. distributing partner for the Schumacher Company, selling their SCH EasyCut cutting system. These parts were originally manufactured in Germany for German-made equipment and S.I. Manufacturing was able to import the parts, adapt them to fit and work with farm equipment made in the US., and distribute them to numerous farmers here in the states. Today, the company is still Schumacher’s largest distributer in the U.S.
In 1993, S.I. Manufacturing was incorporated and renamed S.I. Distributing, Inc. In 2004, Joe Whitney retired and offered to sell the company to two long-time employees: Todd Keysor, who had worked for Whitney since 1984 and Dave Burgei, who began working for Whitney in 1995.
Their goal is to find unique, innovative products, something that will make the equipment better. Today, with a total of 26 employees, S.I. Distributing sells their products throughout the United States.
When asked what was most fulfilling about working for the business, President and co-owner Dave Burgei stated that the company doesn’t just sell a product; they try to understand and identify the problem or roadblock/issue the farmer has, whether it’s in planting or harvesting, and then recommend what would improve his specific experience.