One thing leads to another, said Roger Luebbe, Husker Harvest Days operations manager, who oversaw the $7.5 million infrastructure improvements to the site over the last 10 months.

With new roads, storm sewer system, electrical infrastructure, and many other improvements, Luebbe said, companies that display at HHD were also spurred to make improvements at their lots.

“They have taken their lots apart, took down their old displays and many companies have redone their lot,” he said. “There is a lot of that type of activity going on.”

Luebbe said when HHD’s owners and the city of Grand Island decided to work together to fund the $7.5 million improvement project, many companies that regularly display at the farm show followed suit.

“Because of the huge construction we have done to improve the site, everybody has made a larger commitment to the show,” he said. “Once you make a lot of improvements, such as remodeling a house, you just keep going. That is what some of these exhibitors are doing. They have such nice streets and electrical and improved lighting that they felt that to keep up with the times they would spruce up their own lots.”

For example, Luebbe said Case IH finalized plans for improvements to its lot several days after HHD announced that it was giving the 41-year-old site a modern makeover.

Those plans included a new Case IH building.

“One thing leads to another,” Luebbe said.

Making a statement

Marc Pomerantz, show and events manager for Case IH, said the significant improvements made to the Case IH Husker Harvest Days exhibit are part of a statement the company wanted to make about its commitment of creating a better experience for its customers and the public.

“One of the most benefiting ways, not only for our company and the farm show itself, was building a building,” Pomerantz said. “That not only shows our connection to Grand Island, with our plant here, but also Husker Harvest Days, along with our customers and our commitment to the show.”

Case IH has been involved with the Husker Harvest Days show for its entire 41 years of existence. The company has been a significant employer and economic driver of the community for more than 53 years. The farm equipment manufactured in Grand Island contributes to Nebraska’s international trade — combines and thrashers are among the state’s top exports.

Pomerantz said the goal was to make the new building versatile.

“At the show, we are here to give our customers and the public a nice experience,” he said. “Having a permanent building allows for cement floors, better infrastructure as far as lighting, plumbing and the internet.”

Another feature of the new building is the office and meeting space for Case IH dealers and customers.

There is also a lounge for the staff and guests.

“It just helps, in general, the overall experience for not only our customers, but our staff and employees,” Pomerantz said.

175 years of farm equipment

Case IH is an international company that was founded in 1842 by Jerome Increase Case as Racine Threshing Machine Works in Racine, Wis. The company produced a revolutionary machine to speed up the separation of grain after harvest.

Case IH is now a global leader in agricultural equipment. Last year, it celebrated its 175th anniversary.

According to the company, its beginnings are closely linked with those of the American economy, as pioneers moved west and new farms were established to feed the growing population centers in the east.

— In 1869, Case went on to manufacture the first steam engine tractor, which, although wheel-mounted, was drawn by horses and used only to power other machines.

— In 1876, Case built the first self-propelled traction steam engine. As steam engines quickly replaced horses for threshing, the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. became the world’s largest producer of steam engines by 1886.

— In 1902, five companies merged to form the International Harvester Company in Chicago, the deal being brokered personally by J.P. Morgan, the American banker who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation at the time.

— The company produced its first combine harvester in 1915 and, in 1923, introduced the Farmall, the world’s first row-crop tractor. Providing greater productivity, reliability and safety, it was a revolutionary unified system of tractors and implements for plowing, cultivating and harvesting.

— International Harvester sold more than 5 million Farmall tractors and, in 1977, launched the unique single-rotor Axial-Flow rotary combine, which revolutionized the farming industry with its simplicity, grain quality, grain savings, crop adaptability, matched capacity and high resale value. Axial-Flow combines still set the standard for harvesting performance today.

— Case IH was formed in 1985 when J.I. Case acquired the agricultural division of International Harvester, uniting the legacies of Case and IH in a single brand. Its first product, the Magnum tractor, with horsepower ranging from 160 to 240, was introduced in 1987 and became the first tractor to win the Industrial Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America. Now producing up to 380 horsepower, the Magnum tractor continues to be one of the most recognizable Case IH products, and more than 150,000 have been sold.

— The revolutionary Quadtrac tractor, launched in 1996, established a new benchmark that remains unmatched. Now including the most powerful series production tractor in the world, the Steiger Quadtrac 620, with up to 692 peak horsepower, delivers the greatest pulling power.

Continuing to revolutionize

And now with a new and improved space and building at Husker Harvest Days, Case IH continues to introduce new products that continue its reputation of revolutionizing the agricultural industry.

“We like to launch our products in the fall,” Pomerantz said. “We really find at Case IH that the interaction you get with customers as they see the new products and talk with our experts here is one of the most beneficial things that we get. We are all excited to talk with people. We really get a nice combination of expertise at one spot, at one time.”

He said the new space gives them the room to show off a vast array of farm equipment that is made at their Grand Island plant and other manufacturing facilities owned by the company.

Pomerantz said when Husker Harvest Days officials told the company about the improvements they planned to make at the site, that was when they decided to follow up with an investment on their part in the show.

“We wanted to make sure that we were in this together,” Pomerantz said. “It has been that partnership ever since the beginning. They were very forthright and open about what they were doing. They asked for feedback on what we would like to see as a company. They have been an amazing partner to work with.”

Reporter

I cover business, ag and general reporting for the GI Independent.

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