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Ozark Power Center General Manager Randy Hoffman and owner Charles Edel show a lawn mower off the Kubota Tractor Corp. line, one of the companies' main brands.
Ozark Power Center General Manager Randy Hoffman and owner Charles Edel show a lawn mower off the Kubota Tractor Corp. line, one of the companies' main brands.

Business Spotlight: The Tractor Guy

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Tractors are Charles Edel’s life.

In April, the owner of Ozark Power Center Inc. will mark 50 years in the tractor business.

“I went in business with Ford tractors in April 1961,” Edel says of the Edel Ford Tractor Co. “I’ve operated on this location since 1968. Ozark Power Center Inc. started in 1986.”

At 1660 E. Chestnut Expressway, Ozark Power Center, owned by Edel and his wife, Suzanne, sells tractors,  lawn mowers and construction equipment with an emphasis in parts and service. The companies’ three main brands of tractors and lawn mowers are Kubota Tractor Corp., The Grasshopper Co. and Exmark Manufacturing Co. Inc.

“We took on Kubota in 1974,” Charles Edel says. “It has been a good long-term line.”

Ozark Power Center sells 20-horsepower lawn mowers to 135-horsepower tractors, says General Manager Randy Hoffmann. Most new tractors sell for $16,000 to $27,000, while used tractors run between $7,500 and $18,000.

Ozark Power Center does not trade much anymore because of Internet sites such as Craigslist, where people can sell their construction and farm equipment without a dealer, Hoffmann says.

He says the company recorded 2010 revenue of $3.3 million – a decrease of 8.3 percent compared to 2009. Ozark Power Center averaged $4.5 million a year before the recession, he said. Employment also has shrunk, due to attrition, to 16 employees from 22 in 2009.

“We just filled those voids by delegating and going forward,” Hoffmann says. “This year, we have hired at least three people – a couple of them part time.”

The challenges facing Ozark Power Center were gas prices and slowdowns in construction and landscaping, Hoffmann says.

People pay as much as $180 per month for gas, which is equivalent to a payment on a tractor, he says.

Gas prices averaged $3.56 per gallon on March 21 in the U.S., a 74-cent increase from a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Diesel prices averaged $3.91, an increase of 96 cents compared to the previous year.

Hoffman cites an unnamed landscape customer who mows commercial lawns and plows snow and saw his business shrink from doing about 20 new landscape jobs a year in the fall of 2008 to two new jobs in 2010, Hoffman says.

Josh Gwennap, co-owner of Mr. Green Gene’s, says his dad, company founder Gene Gwennap, has done business with Ozark Power Center for about 30 years.

Mr. Green Gene’s, 4158 E. FR 156, specializes in mowing commercial and residential lawns, he says. The business recently bought three new Kubota riding lawn mowers in 2008 for $12,000 apiece and one new Exmark riding lawn mower in 2009 for $10,000 from Ozark Power Center.

Service is what Josh Gwennap likes most about Ozark Power Center, because he can get mowers repaired within a day or two. The technicians are certified for two years with each tractor company and engine manufacturer that Ozark Power Center does business with, Hoffmann says.

“We tend to run about five years behind the automobile industry because we are getting to a point now in a service department where we have job pricing,” he says. “The days are coming where we will start tracking how long it is going to take us to fix something.”

Hoffmann says the company donates to nonprofit charities, such as $500 to $1,000 of toys per year. Ozark Power Center let the American Cancer Society borrow two utility vehicles for the May 20–21 Relay for Life event at Hillcrest High School.

Edel says the company also donated two rugged terrain vehicles to help the workers at the Price Cutter Charity Championship get around the golf course at Highland Springs Country Club.

As to what the future brings, only time will tell, Hoffman says, because what happens will depend on the economy.

“Right now, it is pretty flat,” he says.[[In-content Ad]]

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