|Community Profiles - Small town living, serving customers a way of life
Maybe it’s Jay Schuurman’s history and childhood, planted deeply into the thick rich soil of his father’s Mohawk dairy farm where he grew up, that made him plant new roots not too far from his childhood home.
Regardless, it’s the small town living that keeps him close to his childhood stomping ground, the perfect place to raise his family, he says.
“I love watching my three children grow up in a small community,” Schuurman said. “I enjoy going to market, seeing customers I know, seeing everyone in town.”
In 2001, his father’s decision to retire from the dairy farm business led Schuurman to venture off on his own, and so he went to work for Springers.
Just three years after, in 2004, Schuurman bought the business from Ross Jones. Schuurman never had any doubts he would succeed as well as Jones had for the last three decades, despite the unseasonably warm weather the area has experienced in recent years.
Not one to whine and complain about life, even warm weather, especially with all the snow recently received, Shuurman happily talked shop.
“Now? Snow this late in the season helps us out a lot,” he said, listing the products they sell, including snow plows, tractors and skid steer loaders.
Some of the dealers they carry are New Holland, Fisher and Bush Hog. Also, Schuurman noted, their three stores also each have a repairs, parts and sales department. “We pride ourselves on our parts and service department,” he said.
When not working at one of the three stores, located in St. Johnsville, Richfield and Oneonta, Schuurman spends time vacationing with his wife, Denise, and their three children, Jacob, 8; Noah, 6; and Aaron, 4, in the summer. However, he noted that in this type of business, they keep busy year round.
This year marks a special point in the Oneonta store, where they will be celebrating 10 years of serving customers, customers that combined with his other two stores, come from at least seven counties, including Delaware, Otsego, Herkimer, Montgomery, Fulton, Schoharie and Chenango.
“We keep growing every year; we’ve had to expand, and we’re constantly looking for new markets,” Schuurman said.
As upbeat and positive as he sounds, Schuurman has had some hard times, but through it all, his genuine concern for his employees remains balanced with his desire to serve his customers.
He spoke of last year’s summer flooding, and how hard his St. Johnsville store had been hit. “At 7:30 a.m., the parking lot was already backing up, so we started moving equipment out. By mid-morning, the water got waist deep, and it just got too dangerous to move anymore equipment,” he said.
By 11 a.m., the water had reached the building. They shut down, and he made his way back to Richfield, he said. “By 2 p.m., my parts manager had gone back to the store and called and said he had about 16 inches of water in the store,” he recalled.
The following day, one of his employees kayaked to the store, he said, and told him there was not a lot of damage to the building.
They suffered a considerable amount of detriment with the used equipment and baling twine, he said, but after the water started receding, “it was just a matter of cleaning up a lot of the muck. Parts had to be taken off the shelf, cleaned and tagged. The insurance covered a lot of it,” he noted.
With flooding behind him, and now the worst of winter possibly past, Schuurman is looking forward to the warmer, drier days.
This past weekend marked the first of three open houses he will be hosting at each of his stores.
This weekend, March 22-24, Springers in St. Johnsville will be fundraising for the Future Farmers of America with a chicken barbecue from Brooks.
Then the following weekend, March 29-31, Springers in Richfield Springs will be hosting another Brooks Barbecue with benefits going to The Zone.
Efforts like this are Schuurman’s way of connecting with the community. “I love being in a small town,” he said.