The Van Wall Group has a proud John Deere history dating back to 1944 when Barney (Donald) Wall came home after the war and opened Wall Implement in Woodward, IA. His dad, Miller Wall, was already a John Deere dealer in Dallas Center, IA. That first dealership, known as Wall Implement, began in a 30’x60’ building with a small shop in the basement. It was located on Main Street in Woodward and on Friday night, the local “shopping night,” the store was the main meeting place for local farmers. In 1966, the store was expanded and a new 40’x60’ service shop was added, making it one of the finest John Deere facilities of its time in the area.
In 1974, Don Van Houweling and Les Larson built a new 5000 square foot building on West Lincoln Way in Ames, IA and opened the first John Deere consumer products store in it. They named the store Four Seasons and operated it in the same location for over 30 years before moving out to a 30,000 square foot facility on Airport Road. Once in its new location, we changed the name to Van Wall Equipment to reflect the increased commercial nature of the business. This location also markets Light Construction Equipment and Vantage vehicles. Also in 1974, Howard Schutt, who had been a partner in the local elevator, joined Barney as a Partner and Service Manager. In 1976, Don Van Houweling, who had spent the prior 10 years working for Deere and Company, also became a Partner and General Manager.
In 1977, Delbert Haws, the John Deere dealer in downtown Perry, decided to retire. Wall Implement purchased Haws Implement and named it Van Wall Equipment. In 1979, Van Wall Equipment left its downtown Perry location for its new 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility on Highway 141 east of Perry. The Perry facility, which serves as the corporate headquarters, has since grown to over 70,000 square feet. Also in 1979, Wall Implement left Woodward and moved 10 miles east to a 20,000 square foot location east of Madrid on Highway 210. It was re-named Van Wall Equipment at that time and today includes a 32,000 square foot facility and is the headquarters for our Goodyear and Titan tire business.
The 80’s were very difficult economic times for agriculture based businesses. During that time, six John Deere dealerships in surrounding towns closed their doors. Despite these difficult times, Van Wall and it’s employees persevered. This is a real tribute to its employees, many of whom are still with them today. In 1989, Barney Wall retired. That same year, the company decided to diversify and build a new John Deere consumer products store in Urbandale. It was named Great American Outdoor and sells lawn and garden equipment and golf course specialty mowing equipment in Iowa and Nebraska. Today, that location has doubled in size and moved up the street.
That trend of diversification continued in 1994 as they purchased an existing lawn and garden store in Des Moines. It too was named it Great American Outdoor. With this acquisition Van Wall became a powersports dealer with Polaris as its primary brand. Also in 1994, Van Wall added a full service rental business in east Ames named Party Time Rental.
In 1995, Rick Hawbaker joined the company as a Partner and General Manager of the Perry location. Rick grew up in the farm equipment business as his dad, Rich, was a Massey Ferguson dealer in Nevada. Today, Rick is our Location Manager in Nevada and our lead agricultural sales person.
In 1999, farm operations were continuing to consolidate and become bigger. Equipment dealers were consolidating and growing to match this trend and in 1999 Van Wall purchased Farmers Supply, a John Deere dealership in Colfax from Bill Gannon. In 2000, we added a new 12,000 square foot shop so we could handle the large service business that had been developed over the years.
During that same year, Van Wall added two more locations. The first was a John Deere lawn and garden dealership in Ankeny called Natures Care. This Ankeny location has since grown and added Polaris to its brand offering. The Ankeny store was also renamed Great American Outdoor to match the other consumer locations. The second was Mid American Equipment in Kansas City, a golf and turf and light construction equipment dealership responsible for the state of Kansas and much of Missouri.
In January of 2000, Van Wall continued to expand its agricultural footprint in central Iowa with the acquisition of Ryerson Implement in Nevada and Story City, from the Hermanson family. With this expansion the Van Wall agricultural area of responsibility is over 5,000 square miles and represent 10% of Iowa’s best producing acres.
In November of 2000, Van Wall acquired a second location in Kansas City called Stanley Equipment. It was a long standing John Deere dealership with over 25 years of service. In 2003, Stanley Equipment and Mid American Equipment were combined in a new 30,000 square foot facility in Olathe, KS under the name of Van Wall Equipment. This dealership handles equipment from John Deere, powersports from Polaris and Victory, as well as commercial vehicles from Vantage and Columbia.
In 2004, Van Wall opened a golf and turf sales and service location in west Omaha, NE to better serve its eastern Nebraska and western Iowa customers. In 2010, the Omaha dealership will move to a new 15,000 square foot facility and will add Endurance Wind Energy products and Boxer construction equipment to its lineup.
In 2005, Van Wall added the complete Yamaha powersports lineup to its Perry location. In addition, a 12,000 square foot addition in Perry to support the additional service and powersports business volume. Also in 2005, Van Wall was named the exclusive distributor of the Vantage Vehicles, a line of small intra-urban trucks and vans which are used by manufacturing, public facilities, and military operations. The area of responsibility for the Vantage business includes the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
In 2006, Van Wall expanded its powersports business with the acquisition of GP Motorsports, a Honda and Yamaha powersports dealership in Indianola.
In 2009, Van Wall Energy was born. Van Wall joined other John Deere dealers to offer the Endurance Wind Turbines in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and eastern Kansas. Van Wall also acquired marketing responsibility for the New Millennium Power Generator, a revolutionary generator that uses riding mowers as its power source. 2009 also marked a significant change for the powersport line-up with the arrival of BMW motorcycles at the Perry location including sales, service, and accessories.