Freeman Implement, an agricultural-based business founded in 1909 that has been under the same family ownership for the past 50 years, has been sold to Sioux International.

The Sioux Falls-based Case IH dealership acquired the Highway 81 business from Brad and Marian Gering Friday, Aug. 1, and has renamed Freeman Implement, Freeman International.

Brad Gering remains on staff and will work in sales. Tod Ihnen will take over as the new general manager, and Ken Koch will be the new shop foreman; both are with Sioux International. Other staff members already in place will remain at Freeman International.

“You will continue to see the same friendly and helpful faces at the dealership, but with a few new additions,” Sioux International wrote in a letter sent to Freeman Implement customers dated Monday, Aug. 4. “These will be some great additions to the dealership in the hope to provide the best customer service in the area.”

Gering, who has worked at Freeman Implement alongside his wife, Marian, since 1988, said they feel good about the transition; “They’ve been good neighbors,” he said of Sioux International. “They’ll do a good job of taking care of our customers.”

The change in ownership came in response to the evolving face of agriculture that has seen an increase in attention to inventory, service and the vast advancement of technology — specifically, precision farming, Gering said.

“The industry keeps changing and it’s been more difficult for a single, standalone dealership to keep up with it all,” he said. “This opportunity presented itself and we thought it was the right thing to do.”

He noted the support his family has felt from the farming community all these years; “We thank our customers for that.”

Sioux International was founded in 1967 and has remained a family-owned, independent family business since. It serves farming communities in southeast South Dakota, northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota.

Ihnen said Sioux International saw its relationship with Freeman Implement and the larger Freeman community as a good fit.

“We’ve felt that all along,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of the same type of customers here as we do out east and we want to focus on taking care of them.”

Customer service is the priority, he said, “and we want to put our stamp on that.”

Ihnen said customers can also expect to see the parts department bolstered and increased attention to service and service tools. “We’ve got a lot of good things coming,” he said.

Freeman Implement’s roots go back to 1909 when a group of local farmers founded the business; in 1911 it was incorporated under the name Farmer’s Cooperative Company. Its original location was on Main Street where Strasser Law Office is located today; it moved to the corner of Main and Fourth streets in 1913, where it remained for 85 years. In 1946, the business was sold to Eldon Graber and Eldon Senner and became known as Eldon’s Implement; a new brick building — today Freeman Chiropractic Solutions — was erected shortly thereafter.

In 1965, Ray Anderson and Earl Gering assumed ownership under the name Freeman Implement, with Earl and Marian Gering becoming sole proprietors in 1973.

Brad Gering, Earl’s son, became involved in 1979 and, as owner, oversaw one of the biggest changes in the implement’s history — a move to a brand-new building on Highway 81 in 1998.

Last week’s sale of Freeman Implement is the second local family-owned implement dealership to change hands in recent years. In 2011, Fred Haar Company, which had been family owned since it was founded in 1882, was sold to C&B Operations.