Gerry Beard steps down as company owner
By Julie Gerke
Gerry Beard has sold his shares of Beard Implement Co. to his co-owners. After March 31, for the first time, the leadership team will be without a Beard since the company started in 1937.
Kyle Schumacher has owned 50% of the company since February 2020, with Nate McGrew and Suzanne Hobrock joining the ownership slate in April 2021.
“They’re like my kids, anyway,” Beard said recently. He still plans to work about 30 hours a week, shifting day-to-day duties elsewhere and returning his focus to sales.
“I’m not retiring … I’m just slowing down,” he said. “This is a good exit strategy for me.”
Beard, a 1978 Illinois College graduate, will remain on the boards of IC and First National Bank of Arenzville. He has also joined the board of the Jacksonville Country Club, where he and wife Mary Ann are members.
The new ownership trio is “very dedicated and very driven,” Beard said. “They understand people and they’re good owners. I’m very proud of them taking over.”
Beard’s grandfather, Robert Beard, starting selling Allis-Chalmers farm equipment in 1937 in Arenzville, where the dealership remains. The company also has offices and staff in Ashland, Pittsfield and Hannibal, Missouri, with about 80 employees serving customers in an area that stretches from Lewiston to Shelbina, Missouri, Greene and Fulton counties and the far side of Springfield.
Gerry Beard picked up the full line of Case IH equipment following the closure of Baumann Implement in Jacksonville, and also has New Holland equipment at Pittsfield and Ashland as well as Kubota at Pittsfield.
In 1984, Gerry Beard, his brother Darryl and Duane Hess took over the company from Gerald E. “GB” Beard and Myron Beard, Gerry and Darryl Beard’s father and uncle, respectively. Gerald E. and Myron Beard had held the reins since 1965.
Darryl Beard has since retired but has one of the four original Allis-Chalmers tractors the company received via rail when the first store opened. Gerry Beard hopes the tractor eventually will find a home at the Ashland store.
“My dad always said you have to live by the Golden Rule,” Gerry Beard said. “The joy of farming is about relationships. That’s why you’ll never see big box stores [for implement sales].”
Several years ago, a Beard Implement Co. intern interviewed Gerald E. Beard about the changes he’d seen during his lifetime, Gerry Beard said. “For 1,000 years, we had people and horses,” Beard quoted his father as saying. “I’ve seen [farming] go from steel wheels to rubber wheels, claw tracks and self-driving. I got to see it all in my 93 years of living.”