Great Bend-based Straub International announced Tuesday that it will close its Marion location by the end of the month.
“The local agricultural economy continues to be weak, and we’re just not getting the revenue generation in that location to be able to sustain its operation,” CEO Ron Straub said.
Employees were told Monday that the store would close July 29. Some will stay on to help with redistribution of inventory to other Straub locations, cleaning, and other activities.
“It’s going to take us a couple of months to close down that location,” Straub said.
The company closed its Larned store in January, but operations in Great Bend, Wichita, Hutchinson, Salina, and Pratt remain.
“We are going to be able to offer transfers to many of the Marion employees, but not everyone,” Straub said. “Our Salina and Hutchinson locations seem to be near enough to travel to, or eventually to relocate.”
While the company will do what it can to assist employees, Straub said, continued service to Marion area customers also is a priority.
Service manager Josh Crawford will remain with Straub, operating a fully-equipped service vehicle to respond to equipment repair needs. The vehicle will carry a limited number of parts, but what Crawford doesn’t have, other locations can supply.
Should a problem require transporting equipment to a shop in Salina or Hutchinson, the company will use the distance from the site of the breakdown to Marion to compute transportation charges, Straub said.
A service technician based at another location also will be available to respond to on-site repairs.
Farmers will be able to order parts through another Straub location and have them delivered to a drop box in Marion. Straub said a permanent location for that has yet to be decided.
Salesman Justin Blew also will continue with the company, retaining the Marion area customer base to provide a familiar contact for new and used equipment, Straub said.
The company also will continue to support agriculture-related activities in the county such as 4-H clubs and the county fair.
“We’re not abandoning the community at all,” Straub said. “We will continue to support the community and those endeavors. They will just have a different person to call, and we’ll let people know who that is.”
Mayor Todd Heitschmidt was disappointed to learn of the closure.
“That’s sad to hear,” he said. “Straub’s and the previous owners have had a good relationship not only with the city but with the county and their customer base. It will be a little inconvenient, but I appreciate them trying to continue to work with their area customers.”
Heitschmidt said the loss of the business would have limited effect on city tax revenues.
“As far as the tax base goes, there’s no sales tax collected on equipment sales or parts that are directly related to ag production,” he said. “The building, the real estate is not going away; it’s still part of our tax base so we won’t miss out on that.”
The appraised value of the land and building, $300,850, won’t change any time soon, appraiser Brian Frese said. The valuation would be re-evaluated if the property is sold, if significant changes were made to the building, or if Straub’s requested a review. The valuation also could be changed when the county does its annual review.
Straub’s paid $16,563 in real estate tax for 2015, county treasurer Jeannine Bateman said.
Based on the company’s experience with the Larned closure, Straub said he is optimistic about retaining a presence in the county.
“We really worried how they would accept the closure,” he said. “We’ve kept about 75 percent of the parts business from that area and maybe even more of the service. They’re going to have to talk to a different service manager, but when the guy comes out to the farm, it’ll be the same guy.”