Lieske, Guertin team up for tractor restoration business
By Melissa Mussman
HENDERSON, Minn. — Kyle Lieske of Henderson has been interested in working with tractors since he was a little boy. His father, Ron, remembers when he would play farm and pretend to fix tractors.
All grown up, his childhood play has become a business. Lieske buys old tractors, restores them and sells them to people from all over Minnesota and across the country.
Lieske and his friend Randy Guertin operate Lieske Tractors on the home farm.
"We are specializing in tractors that are older than me," smiled Lieske. "We sell new and used parts, buy and sell tractors and do repairs and restorations. I enjoy operating my own business and being my own boss."
The partners work on as many tractors as they can during the week and go to auctions on Saturdays and Sundays. They usually have six to eight tractors in the shop at a time. All together, they have 40 to 50 tractors around the shop and on the farm.
"We buy and sell for people collecting to fill out a collection or people looking for a certain model," Lieske said. "We even sell tractors on E-Bay, so we have customers all over the country and even Canada."
The Lieske family raised hogs and were in the swine genetic business until 1995. Lieske is the sixth generation to live on the home farm. When Lieske and Guertin needed a shop, they remodeled the hog barn. That’s where they work on the tractors. The other buildings on the farm are used to store parts, which they also buy and sell.
"People are always calling asking for parts or what they have for tractors," said Ron. "It is always fun to come down to the shop and see who is down here. It reminds me of the show West Coast Choppers, but I jokingly call it ‘Sibley County Tractor.’"
The partners fix any kind of tractor model. Tractors and parts sometimes require thorough searches. They take the trailer, dig their finds out and bring the stuff home.
Lieske and Guertin are proud of their work.
"Sometimes we have the stuff sold before we even get it back to the shop," said Lieske. "It is pretty amazing how fast some of them can sell."
Even though they have worked on a lot of tractors, Lieske remembers one tractor in particular.
"My grandparents had given me a John Deere MC Crawler," said Lieske. "It was one of my favorites to work on."
Lieske said all the hard work is its own reward. Customers who are pleased with their work is icing on the cake.
"It is a lot of fun when you find a tractor and get it running after it has sat for 20 years," said Lieske.
Lieske Tractor has a Web site people can visit: www.liesketractor.com.
"I am so impressed to see how well things are going after only a year and a half," said Ron. "The tractor business is amazing and it never gets old."