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Former Marion business settling into Hillsboro park

Staff writer

Scully Estates and Midlands Farm Services Partners Agent Doug Sharp and secretary Sharon Andes are anxiously awaiting the completion of a new office in the Hillsboro business park. They have been working out of a construction trailer next to the office site since summer.

They moved to the site in Hillsboro this summer. The Scully office had been in Marion for the past 130 years.

Andes described the move as shocking especially because some aspects of the Scully business have changed very little.

William Scully purchased land in Marion County nearly 140 years ago. Sharp’s day-to-day dealings are with farmers renting Scully land in northwest Marion County.

Sharp said William Scully, 87, B. Scully, 61, and Ricarda Scully, 30, do not intend to ever sell their land.

“The Scullys believe in their land investment enough that we are building a very nice office to manage their affairs for a very long time,” Sharp said. “You see how big an asset it is. In this day and age, paper investments have been scary. The family side is important to them. It gives them an opportunity to gather and go over their land investments.”

Andes has worked as a secretary for the Scully office for 42 years. She was so soft-spoken when she was first employed that the first agent she worked for, Forest Smith, said he would have to purchase a new hearing aid to understand her.

“I was 20 years old then,” Andes said. “To me it’s amazing that I have never changed jobs. It’s been good to me.”

However, Scully Partners has been in a perpetual state of change.

Sharp has witnessed a change in the way tenants prefer to rent land. Previously, farmers preferred a crop share formula. Scully would take care of costs — machinery, seed, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides — and would gain a percentage share of the yield.

Crop sharing required a more hands-on approach from the agent to protect the landowners’ investment.

Today, farmers prefer a cash rent system. Much like an apartment or home, farmers pay rent regardless of how the land performs.

“From the Scully standpoint they have so much land,” Sharp said. “We opt for cash rent because it’s clean and simple.”

The Midlands Partners business was also an addition. For Midlands, Sharp oversees land for third-party owners who are often in other parts of the country.

When Andes started working for Scully, there were three men in the office besides the agent. The Scullys even had a ranch near Durham.

As the number of fellow employees dwindled, Andes’ duties increased. She takes care of the books, handles phone calls, and sets up appointments.

One of her biggest adjustments was going from jotting figures in notebooks to doing books on a computer.

“I was scared to death. I had to go to Omaha for school,” she said. “I still do some by hand, but you do learn it.”

Scully’s biggest change was moving 10 miles west to Hillsboro.

The Scully Estates and Midlands partners agent and his secretary, Andes, moved from Marion to Hillsboro this past year. They left the office in Marion when they were unable to come to an agreement for the purchase of a lot in Marion’s business park last year.

“We were there for 130 years or more, in one form or another,” Sharp said.

The move is filled with benefits and losses.

While they moved away from the FSA office and courthouse, they are moving closer to their tenants.

“I think we will see more of our tenants in here because they’ll be driving by a lot,” Sharp said.

They gained parking spaces and a larger office but have to adjust to a new town.

“That’s the way life goes,” Andes said.

With the new office, Sharp believes Scully’s long history will continue.

“There’s no reason to believe we won’t be here another 140 years,” Sharp said.

Last modified Oct. 21, 2010

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