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Jonathan Knutson, Forum Communications Co., Published November 01 2010

Ladies in charge of farm implement dealership

WINGER, Minn. – Kathy Iverson started as a secretary. Now she’s the store manager.

She, Monica Bisek and Becky Stordahl have all worked their way into management positions at the Titan Machinery farm implement dealership in Winger, Minn.

Bisek is service manager, while Stordahl is parts manager.

“Working with the customers is something we enjoy. It’s just something that has worked out well,” Iverson says of the management structure.

Women play a growing, increasingly diverse role throughout agriculture. Though firm numbers are hard to come by, anecdotal evidence suggests their role at farm equipment dealerships is expanding, too, albeit at a modest rate.

It’s not uncommon for area dealerships to hire women to work in parts departments, says Richard Strom, executive vice president of the Minnesota-South Dakota Equipment Dealers Association in Owatonna, Minn.

He says he’s not aware of any other farm implement store in Minnesota or South Dakota that’s managed by a woman, much less one with female parts and service managers, too.

But diversity is a good thing, and ag implement dealerships will benefit as the role of women expands, he says.

Titan Machinery, based in Fargo, bought what had been Winger Implement in May 2009. All three women were working with Winger Implement and remained with the store after Titan Machinery acquired it.

Titan has no reservations about women serving in the three management positions at the Winger store, says Mike St. Onge, the company’s Red River Valley regional manager.

“Our goal is serving customers, and they do a very good job of that,” he says.

Iverson, Bisek and Stordahl say customers occasionally mention their gender but stress that the comments are “playful” and “positive.”

Titan Machinery represents a mix of ag, construction and consumer products dealerships. It has 72 stores in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Titan’s store in Winger, a town of about 200, sells and services ag equipment. It is a New Holland dealer and also handles several major ag short lines.

Stordahl, 50, grew up in the Winger area, the daughter of a farmer.

As a young adult, she spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a machinist stationed in Norfolk, Va.

“Coming back to Minnesota sounded pretty good after that,” she says.

Returning to the Winger area, she worked initially as a machinist in a neighboring community but later accepted a parts position in Winger.

She’s spent 22 years with the Winger store, serving as parts manager for the past 18.

Through the years, she’s worked with three generations of customers.

“I think I have farmer blood in me. I have a few acres of my own, and this is just fun. I feel comfortable in the position,” she says.


Jonathan Knutson is a writer for Agweek