BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
Bill Hirt has a business plan that has allowed Bill’s Implement Sales, 4485 E. Bayshore Rd., Port Clinton to thrive for a half century. Although he depended on selling farming equipment when he began, riding mowers and yard tools have been his stock in trade for the last decade, buoyed by a dedicated staff of family members.
Bill’s Implement Sales and his family crew will celebrate their 50th Anniversary celebration on Friday through Sunday, May 12-14 — a Mother’s Day weekend of sales events and visits with customers, friends and neighbors.
“As the community has changed over the years, we’ve become a major dealer in Ferris and Scag commercial mowers, as well as Stihl, ExMark, Toro and Simplicity yard tools,” he said. “Our foundation is our commercial accounts, from the Ottawa County Fairgrounds and the Sheriff’s Department to Danbury and Port School districts and many area businesses.
“We not only sell top shelf mowers, but we have the parts and service to keep them running smoothly,” he said. “That keeps people coming back. If someone has a problem with a mower, we make the problem go away. Customers really appreciate that.”
Hirt brought out a 50-year-old mower he found in a local barn and wanted it for display.
“That old mower can’t compete with the mowers we sell now, which are far more comfortable and efficient, but you could take this old-timer out to the back yard and it would mow the grass without a problem,” he said.
Hirt is invested in his community — he was a 1967 graduate of Danbury High School and its class president. So is his family. He began the business with his wife, Terrie, and son Jeff and his wife, Jessica are behind the counter with their daughter, Lilly. The youngster is already riding her own little tractor and entertaining customers.
“The kids have all been eager to get their first go kart, snowmobile or four-wheeler. They’re all mechanically inclined, and have a good work ethic. My two grandsons will come rolling in at 4 p.m., right after school lets out, and they’ll be ready to work.”
Brother Dave Hirt joined the company after a stint on a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine, and he’s now a Danbury Township Trustee. Brother-in-Law Tom Jenkins handles sales, repairs and parts.
“A major reason for our success is family, which is very rewarding,” said said Hirt. “We’ve made a pretty good living using common sense. If a decision makes common sense, then we do it.”
He hasn’t gotten away from the agricultural community, farming 2,000 acres of soybeans, corn and wheat with his son, Jeff. The only reason he has an impressive pair of deer antlers on his filing cabinet isn’t because he hunts, but rather common sense.
“You find those big antlers in the fields,” he explained. “If you don’t pick them up, they could puncture a tractor tire.”