CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Gerald Gayman went to Hoober’s biennial customer appreciation banquet at the company’s Chambersburg store Tuesday expecting a hot meal and thank-you speeches from the family-owned equipment dealer’s leaders.
He got all that — and a new Case IH Scout utility vehicle.
Gayman and his family’s Greenvillage Farms LLC, just outside Shippensburg, won the vehicle as part of a Hoober giveaway co-sponsored by Lancaster Farming.
“We weren’t expecting this at all,” Gayman said.
Joel Gayman, Gerald’s son and a partner in the farm, said the Scout will be helpful in feeding calves and doing other chores at the dairy.
Joel Gayman said Chuck Hoober, one of the Hoober partners, wanted to see a picture of the Scout with a pile of deer laying in the back.
Early in his farming career, Gerald Gayman worked for two years at Chambersburg Farm Service, which Hoober bought in 2011. “We’ve always dealt here,” Gerald Gayman said.
Greenvillage runs International tractors over 500 acres, including rented ground.
Gerald Gayman said everything about farming has gotten bigger during his 35 years in agriculture.
For his first few months of dairying in 1978, he had only 23 cows and 28 stalls. Now that dairies cannot be profitable with such small numbers, he milks 250 Holsteins and has about as many heifers.
Instead of churning out a lot of small square bales, he now makes large round bales. He also chops a lot more silage and haylage than he used to make. He started with a sycamore haybine but now uses a discbine.
Equipment has gotten bigger and more complex, too. Equipment is more computerized, and more thought is put into even the seed hybrids the machines put in the ground, he said.
As farming has increased in scale, it has required hard work and a team effort to keep the farm operating. In addition to Gerald and Joel Gayman, Gerald’s son Paul Gayman works on the farm. Their wives and Joel and Paul’s children also help.
The Gaymans switched to no-till about 12 years ago. “It’s a lot easier to plant,” saving time and fuel and preventing erosion, Gerald Gayman said.
Rocks damage equipment less in a no-till system, he said.
From the late ’70s to about 1990, the Gaymans cultivated their corn instead of spraying. The farm was technically organic, though the term was not current back then, he said.
The Gaymans market their milk through the Mount Joy Farmers Cooperative.
“I feel like we have God’s blessing on our farm,” Gerald Gayman said.
The customer appreciation event came during a period of growth for Hoober. Through a series of acquisitions over the past three years, Hoober has grown to include nine stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
Hoober’s goal is to be the dealer of choice in the Mid-Atlantic region, said Mark Bonson, the Chambersburg store and parts manager.
Chuck Hoober said the expansion allows the company to move its inventory around more. A location can now offer perhaps 50 used combines instead of five, he said.
Because new farm machinery is so complex, the company is also increasing training for both its sales staff and customers, Scott Hoober, one of the partners, said.
“These products you just don’t get in, and get in the seat, and get going,” he said.
The company is also making improvements to its parts ordering system to get parts to customer faster, said Rod Lefever, Hoober’s business manager and a partner.
The company recently created a smartphone app with Case part diagrams to streamline those orders.
The company is growing its precision ag segment, too. “We’re excited about where the future is going with that,” Lefever said.
The Chambersburg customer appreciation event had 392 reservations, though the cold weather may have kept some people away, Bonson said.
The Scout vehicle, which looks like a heavy-duty golf cart, takes its name from International Harvester’s early version of an SUV.
International kept the name alive even though it no longer makes automobiles, Bonson said.