NICOLLET — Zins Implement, tied as the oldest John Deere dealership in the world, is closing this summer, part of a trend toward larger consolidated dealerships.
"You have a heavy heart thinking of it closing after so long as a family business," said Kurt Zins, among the fourth generation to operate the dealership.
"But I don't see it as an ending to our store, but a consolidation. With the ag climate the way it is and farmers getting bigger and bigger and farther between — it's the same with the implement dealers."
Gilsinger John Deere, in Winimac, Ind., bills itself as the oldest John Deere dealership in the world, starting in 1899. John C. Zins opened a general store in Nicollet in 1892 and got its first John Deere contract in 1899, the same year as Gilsinger.
Zins Implement has been operating as Kibble Equipment since it merged with Kibble in 2006. Kibble has dealerships in a dozen locations, including Mankato, Nicollet, New Ulm and Sleepy Eye.
Butch Kibble said that with fewer farmers and facilities relatively close together, closing the smaller Nicollet shop was inevitable.
"To provide the level of service we need to today and to have the work for our employees, we need the facilities that have the size and scope. The days of having the Nicollet-sized stores is actually long gone," Kibble said.
"It's not a great day when you have to do it, but we have good employees in Nicollet and rather than watch this just fade away, we thought we could keep them working and created the economy of scale and customer service we need to deliver."
The goal is to have the 10 employees working in Nicollet move to other Kibble dealerships.
Soon after opening his general store, John C. Zins began expanding into well drilling, plumbing, buying and selling livestock and selling farm equipment.