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#16 Bolens800uk OFFLINE  

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Posted March 01, 2015 - 03:56 AM

In the UK, Bolens were sold alongside other brands of tractors. The dealership in the SW of England covering mainly Devon, MST (Medlow, Sanders and Twose) sold Bolens back in the 70s and 80s alongside Westfields and Murrays. They are now mainly a Kubota dealership. As far as I am aware most of the Bolens equipment and parts were never sold 'outside' an approved franchise unlike in the States. I don't think we had the same entrepreneural outlook like you guys over there.

As a point of interest, the mulching deck sold over here today are not really effective due to the UK's damp climate.

Edited by Bolens800uk, March 01, 2015 - 06:54 AM.

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#17 Scott Pa OFFLINE  

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Posted March 01, 2015 - 04:48 PM

In southeastern PA there was a Ford tractor distributor called Gash-Stull until about 1962 when Ford started selling direct to dealers, they needed to find another way to have income so they took on Bolens and since the salesmans knew the Ford dealers they were an easy sell, our Ford dealership signed up with them in 1963, this distributor covered eastern PA, NJ, DE, MD and maybe others.


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#18 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted March 01, 2015 - 04:54 PM

In southeastern PA there was a Ford tractor distributor called Gash-Stull until about 1962 when Ford started selling direct to dealers, they needed to find another way to have income so they took on Bolens and since the salesmans knew the Ford dealers they were an easy sell, our Ford dealership signed up with them in 1963, this distributor covered eastern PA, NJ, DE, MD and maybe others.

 

Are you perhaps talking about the Big Distributor "Stull Equipment"


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#19 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted March 01, 2015 - 05:57 PM

In southeastern PA there was a Ford tractor distributor called Gash-Stull until about 1962 when Ford started selling direct to dealers, they needed to find another way to have income so they took on Bolens and since the salesmans knew the Ford dealers they were an easy sell, our Ford dealership signed up with them in 1963, this distributor covered eastern PA, NJ, DE, MD and maybe others.

 

:wave: Scott  -  I know you from the NTC forum.  ...I forgot you were also a Bolens dealer in the past.

 

Maybe your memory is better than mine.  ....Do you remember when Gash-Stull became Stull Equipment Co.?  ,,,They were our Bolens distributor too.

 

Did Gash-Stull distribute Ford farm tractors, or just the lawn & garden equipment?


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#20 framesteer OFFLINE  

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Posted March 02, 2015 - 10:57 AM

To give an idea of what kind of people and facilities Bolens engaged as dealers, I thought I'd provide some information on my Dad's Bolens dealership in the 60's, 70's and early 80's.

 

As a second job, my Dad ran a small engine repair shop, starting in the 50's with repairs to washing machine motors and then self-propelled reel mowers.  His first shop was a small building in our back yard.  The hours for the shop were inconsistent, because his first job was as an "oiler" at the local natural gas compressor station.  This station was a 24/7 operation, so the operations people worked continuously rotating shifts.  That schedule made running the small engine shop a challenge.  On the positive, he was often there during the "normal" business hours, but just as often he was at the compressor station during the day.  In either case he was often working 16-18 hours daily between the two jobs.

 

In the early 60's, the small engine shop business was increasing, with newly introduced rotary lawn mowers and chainsaws.  Dad built a building the size of a two car garage.  In 1962, he was contacted by the Bolens territory representative about the possibility of selling Bolens equipment.  His first lawn tractor was a 600 Bolens, with a rotary mower as well as a three-gang Pennsylvania reel mower.

 

During the 60's, the popularity of lawn and garden tractors and other riding lawn equipment grew.  Also, there was an increasing local demand for white oak barrel staves and oak logs to fill charcoal kilns.  Dad had a good business selling Homelite chain saws in those days, and he had a good reputation in being able to keep them running.  Later, when Homelite starting putting more plastic in their saws, he was one of the first to sell Stihl saws.  The reputation of these saws grew quickly and Bolens and Sthil sales increased.  Primarily he sold lawn and garden tractors (00 and 50 Series), lawn keepers , and self-propelled rotary mowers (Orbit-Aires).  He added an additional stall on to the shop, now the equivalent of a three-car garage, still in the back yard.  Still working continuously rotating shifts at the compressor station, my Mom became the expert parts person, and managed the shop while simultaneously raising four kids.  In 1967, with the help of he Bolens territory rep, Dad sold enough equipment to qualify for a trip for my parents to Jamaica.  That trip was the only vacation my parents ever took without us kids.

 

His Bolens sales continued through the 70's, and Dad sold a good number of G and H series tractors.  By then, lower price and lower quality units took over quite a bit of the market, making selling the higher priced Bolens units more difficult.  Also, there were revisions in the Bolens' marketing strategy, requiring more equipment in dealers' inventory.  These requirements made it very difficult for my Dad to continue as a Bolens dealer (especially on the sales side).  My Dad's health deteriorated in the early 80's and he passed in 1983. The small engine shop was shut down and much of the Bolens parts inventory was retained to service the needs of customers that were close friends and relatives.  Soon after my Mom's death in 2009, the assets of the small engine shop were auctioned, except service parts for Bolens and Stihl, which have come in very handy for my and my son's Bolens restoration projects and keeping the family's Bolens equipment operating.

 

My knowledge of other Bolens dealers would say that the reputation and success of Bolens equipment was not only due to the superior design, quality and reliability of the equipment, but also in large part to the knowledge, skill, and integrity of the dealers.


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#21 WrenchinOnIt OFFLINE  

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Posted March 02, 2015 - 12:05 PM

Great story, thanks for sharing your family's intertwine with the Bolens brand, enjoyed reading it.
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#22 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted March 02, 2015 - 12:33 PM

Great info Framesteer!

 

Its a an honor to have so many former dealers on this site!

It was you guys who really made the Bolens name stand out offering great parts and service all those years to the customers.

And we have you guys to thank that these machines were sold and  are still out there today!


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#23 Texas Deere and Horse OFFLINE  

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Posted March 02, 2015 - 01:19 PM

Framesteer, It is so nice to hear about your family's dealership and how it was run.

 

Thank you so much for sharing!! :thumbs:


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#24 blackjackjakexxix ONLINE  

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Posted March 02, 2015 - 01:37 PM

Framesteer,Thanks for sharing the info,I'm glad I started this post,hope you and your son keep up the relationship working together,you don't see a lot of that today,glad your part of the group,feel free to share some more stories about the dealership


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#25 Bolens800uk OFFLINE  

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Posted March 02, 2015 - 03:15 PM

That's a lovely story, thanks for sharing.
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#26 Scott Pa OFFLINE  

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Posted March 02, 2015 - 08:53 PM

:wave: Scott  -  I know you from the NTC forum.  ...I forgot you were also a Bolens dealer in the past.

 

Maybe your memory is better than mine.  ....Do you remember when Gash-Stull became Stull Equipment Co.?  ,,,They were our Bolens distributor too.

 

Did Gash-Stull distribute Ford farm tractors, or just the lawn & garden equipment?

I do not know for sure when the name changed without going though our paperwork. They distributed farm tractors and implements, Ford lawn and garden did not come out until 1965 and Ford was dealing direct to dealers then.


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#27 chieffan ONLINE  

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Posted March 03, 2015 - 08:35 AM

A big THANKS to all you guys for the great information.  Does anyone have a solid reason why Bolens moved a thousand mile East in large quantity, but very few made it West across the river?  A Bolens enthusiast I talked to occasionally from the Omaha. NE area said they traveled to Wisconsin for two of the tractors they have as nothing was available closer.  Was the river was a barrier that could not be crossed?


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#28 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted March 03, 2015 - 09:48 AM

A big THANKS to all you guys for the great information.  Does anyone have a solid reason why Bolens moved a thousand mile East in large quantity, but very few made it West across the river?  A Bolens enthusiast I talked to occasionally from the Omaha. NE area said they traveled to Wisconsin for two of the tractors they have as nothing was available closer.  Was the river was a barrier that could not be crossed?

 

I dont think they sold as high a volume of tractors out west due to there being more farm land at the time and less residential lots to mow/blow snow ect. They definietly sold them all over the US as they had several distrubutors out west offering parts.

There is a hot spot out west in California though. I sell alot of Bolens parts to guys out in CA.

In San Jose Bolens had their research and development center.


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#29 chieffan ONLINE  

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Posted March 03, 2015 - 01:07 PM

I dont think they sold as high a volume of tractors out west due to there being more farm land at the time and less residential lots to mow/blow snow ect. They definietly sold them all over the US as they had several distrubutors out west offering parts.

There is a hot spot out west in California though. I sell alot of Bolens parts to guys out in CA.

In San Jose Bolens had their research and development center.

 

Growing up on a farm in the 40's & 50's, Most all farms had large gardens.  The only garden wheeled tool I remember is the single large wheel cultivator  I am sure this probably true for other pats of the Midwest as well.  One would think the small tractor with plow and cultivators would be very useful.  I realize that the New England States are primarily industrial but isn't there areas of farm ground there too?  Even in Ohio, and Indiana are big corn and soy bean states.  Bolens items are thick as fleas on a dogs back  in that farm area.  Most of the farm in our area and surrounding areas had large house yards to mow. Considerable larger than the city type yard.  I am not arguing with you logic but personally I don't think farm activity had much to do with it.  It wasn't only Bolens void but none of the garden type tractors were in this are that I can remember. 


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#30 morepower302 OFFLINE  

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Posted March 24, 2015 - 10:19 AM

Interesting info on the history of the Bolens distribution network. Thanks everyone for sharing. Reading this brought back memories of when I was younger and worked as a mechanic for a former Bolens dealership in southeast PA. This was from 2000-2006 so it was long after they stopped dealing in Bolens products, however they still had a good stock of parts. One summer I was tasked with helping to move all of the Bolens parts from one storage area to another, which having an interest in vintage tractors was enjoyable for me to see all the NOS and used parts for the older machines. They also had (and may still) a good stock of Bolens ISEKI parts. They were a really nice and knowledgeable group of people to work for. The owner worked previously for an IH dealer and was happy to share some knowledge when it came to my Cub Cadet restoration projects. Even though I have interest in Cub Cadets I've always had respect for the engineering that went into the Bolens tractors, especially the tube frame machines. There where several old tube frame machines "out back in the weeds" at the dealer and if I had to go out there for something I would find myself looking them over.

Edited by morepower302, March 24, 2015 - 01:17 PM.

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