Shiner tractor business serves generations of farmers
April 20, 2017 at 10:36 p.m.
Updated April 21, 2017 at 6 a.m.
SHINER - In a time when farmers traded horses and mules and cotton was king, Edwin Boehm stood out in the small Shiner community with an updated version of a modern tool - a tractor.
After serving in the U.S. Army 9th Airborne Division in World War II, Boehm returned to Texas to begin what would become a longtime trusted family business.
Boehm Tractor Sales in Shiner is gearing up to celebrate 75 years in May, no easy feat for a mom-and-pop shop. Boehm, who grew up on a farm, started his tractor business in 1945 when he returned from Europe.
"The first few years was the great change of small farmers changing from horses and mules to tractors and modern equipment," Boehm, 94, said.
Selling to old-school farmers during that time was not an easy pitch.
"It was very difficult sometimes because these farmers had very high regards for their horses and mules, and they didn't want to part with them. That's the way it was," he said.
To sell a tractor, Boehm would drive the tractor to the farm and demonstrate every implement the farmer would want to and need to use. He would spend from sunrise to the early evening demonstrating what the original Ford 9N Series could do.
Boehm had to do that each time he had to make a sale - by himself.
"We had to plow, plant, harrow. We had to do the whole thing to change his mind from horses and mules to tractors because back then, hydraulics on tractors were just coming into the area," Boehm said.
Business started to boom in 1948, when Ford rolled out with larger tractor models and many new pieces of equipment. Over the years, the original downtown store by the railroad tracks would become too small, and a new one was built in 1985 and designed by son Waldo Boehm to accommodate the growing business.
The Boehm family also grew. In 2002, Boehm's son became a co-owner, but he had already spent most of his life working around the shop. From sweeping and setting up merchandise to delivery and sales, Waldo Boehm worked his way up. As the business grew, so did the reach.
"We started delivering to outside the area: to Louisiana, Cotulla and Del Rio," Waldo Boehm, 67, said.
Waldo Boehm's son, Christopher "Bucky" Boehm, followed through the family business and started working at the store in 2006.
Working alongside his father and son has been smooth, Waldo Boehm said. The family has a strong customer service policy that has worked well for clients; some of Boehm's clientele span decades. Rather than sell something a customer might not need, the family focuses on clients' needs.
For decades, Boehm Tractor Sales has received national and statewide recognition for its high volume of sales and customer service. The business also was elected twice by its peers in the United States and Canada to the National Dealer Council, Ford tractor division.
The service department has also been instrumental to the success of the business, Waldo Boehm said. Several employees also have been with the business for 30 years or longer.
"If there's a problem, we'll take care of it," Waldo Boehm said. "People like knowing we have familiar faces who are dependable."
Beverly Raindl, who has worked with the business for 32 years, said she has enjoyed working in a family atmosphere.
"You get to know almost every customer who walks through the door. The family has always been good to the employees and customers," Raindl said.
Longtime parts department employee Ben Machacek said some customers come from families who have put their trust in Boehm Tractor Sales for three generations.
"We're good, honest people, here to help in any way we can," Machacek said.
Christopher Boehm, 29, said he hopes the business will continue with future Boehm generations as well.
"Not many people can say that they love their job," he said. "We plan to keep growing and keep making customers happy."