A family-owned John Deere dealership is changing hands. New Alexandria’s West Central Equipment has purchased Scheffel Equipment Co., of Somerset and Johnstown.

Former owner Ken Scheffel said John Deere has been encouraging dealerships to merge in an effort to have fewer dealership groups.

“To be a dealer of tomorrow you need to consolidate, work together,” he said. David Selzak, president of West Central Equipment, said the location made it an attractive purchase. Selzak has 30 years of experience in the business.

“We looked at our trade area and it fit into our trade area,” he said. Selzak also considered Scheffel’s reputation in the region. “They did very well as a John Deere dealer,” he said. “They received 90% on customer satisfaction surveys. It made it look very attractive.”

The decision to sell the company was hard, said Ken Scheffel, who owned the business along with his father, Jonas, and brothers Dennis and Nelson. “It was very hard,” he said. “A lot of sleepless nights.”

Before making any deals, Scheffel said his family made sure all jobs would be secure. “We wanted to make sure our employees had a job,” he said. “We’re a family.” Selma said one advantage of the buyout is increased buying power. “We may be able to offer more competitive pricing,” he said.?The company also has people who specialize in different fields, such as GPS farming, to assist customers.

But there will be some changes in Somerset. Selzak said the Arctic Cat and Pequea lines will no longer be offered; however, some new lines for hay equipment will be introduced.

Selzak said this is the company’s second acquisition. West Central Equipment was formerly Lone Maple Sales & Service. Lone Maple Sales acquired Wineland Equipment in Martinsburg in November 2007.

“We know a lot more about the process and have a little more experience handling employees,” he said. West Central now has 70 employees, 27 of whom are at the Somerset and Johnstown locations. Scheffel Equipment opened in 1989 after the family purchased the dealership from O.D. Barnett and Sons.

Three years later, they moved the business to the location along Red Goose Road. “My family and employees really appreciate working with the community the past 20 years,” Scheffel said. One change customers will see has nothing to do with the buyout: Ralph Dietle has retired from the parts department after a 46-year career.“ All the farmers know him,” Jonas Scheffel said.