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Shuffling of businesses

Posted 10/16/13 (Wed)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Kent Taylor, owner of Taylor Ag, moved back to his hometown of Watford City in the early ’80s, and the owner of S & S Motors, Brent Sanford, moved back home nine years ago. They both returned at different times to, as they put it, take over the family business. And, while Taylor’s family business was agriculture and Sanford’s was cars, their stories have taken yet another similar turn when this past week they moved their places of business to new locations.
Taylor, with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Organizational Communication, had been working for the Bismarck Hospital, now Sanford Health, for four years when he had the opportunity to come back home and take over the family farm.
“We happened to be in the middle of a drought when I came home,” states Taylor. “I had obtained my commercial license while I was living in Bismarck and that is how I got into spraying.”
Taylor states that, eventually, flying took up most of his time. So with one airplane and a truck with a water tank, he began Taylor Ag in 1985.
Conversely, Sanford and his family were home for vacation in July of 2004 when his father, part owner of S & S Motors said they were going to lock the car dealership’s doors because there was no one to take it over.
“The business had been in our family for a long time and it just did not seem right that it was going to close,” states Sanford. “Sandi and I talked about it and she encouraged me to move back home and take over the business. She knew I had always wanted to move back home, and we both felt this was the right thing to do for our family.”
From the moment both men moved back home, their businesses grew into more than they could have imagined.
Taylor states that for the first two years Taylor Ag was opened the area was in the middle of a grasshopper epidemic and all he seemed to do was spray for grasshoppers. A few years later, Taylor acquired two more spray planes and a couple of extra pilots, then he purchased a ground sprayer. In 1990, Taylor Ag expanded into the fertilizer business with a hopper bottom tank setup and blending plant on the local airport where the main office was for several years.
Sanford states that when he returned home he was excited to take part in the Main Street resurgence of Watford City businesses. The city he grew up in had been declining in population and businesses along the city’s Main Street corridor were closing.
“Now the city is taking a completely different turn,” states Sanford.
What, according to Sanford, started with the First International Bank & Trust expansion a few years before the oil boom took off, has continued in the relocation of Mike’s Super Valu to the South Park Plaza and Farmers Union Oil to the N.D. Highway 23 bypass.
“This is a new chapter in the life of Watford City’s Main Street, and S & S Motors,” states Sanford. “We are finding ourselves needing more room to show inventory and service cars, let alone for our customers to find places to park.”
Both Sanford and Taylor, after finding themselves growing out of the locations in which their businesses began, have come to discover that they need space to continue operating, as well as to meet their customers’ needs.
“About a year ago we put both places up for sale and just thought we would see what happens,” states Taylor, of Taylor Ag’s fertilizer plant, and Taylor Ag, located east of Watford City at the corner of the Highway 23 bypass and Highway 23.
“The things that started to make this a bad location for Taylor are what we thought would make this a good location for us,” states Sanford, of his purchase of the Taylor Ag facility east of Watford City across from the Highway 23 bypass. “We like that it is near a busy intersection and that we can show all our inventory in one location.”
Sanford states that with the increased traffic in and around Watford City, showing vehicles in four different lots started to become difficult.
“It used to be easy to cross the street and it used to be easy to drive over to our lot by McKenzie County Bank,” states Sanford. “It is not always easy now, depending on the day and the time of day.”
Sanford states that, in purchasing the Taylor Ag facility, he is exchanging ½ acre for four acres and doubling the square-footage of his office and shop space.
“In moving out here, we have been able to double the number of lifts in our shop, and hire one or two more mechanics,” states Sanford.
Likewise ,Taylor in selling both his properties has been able to purchase one piece of land that will house both his agriculture praying business and his fertilizer business.
“It has been our goal for a while to have both businesses together, and now that it has happened, we should be able to grow more,” states Taylor. “This move will allow us to be able to serve the farmers in a more efficient fashion, which has always been our goal. And now we are on our way to achieving it.”
According to Taylor, the new facility is located north of the junction of N.D. 1806 and N.D. 23, east of Watford City. There, a new 6,000-ton fertilizer plant will reside, as well as Taylor Ag’s retail crop protection chemical, seed and ground spraying business. Taylor Ag will continue to house its planes at the Watford City Airport.
According to Taylor, Found It Now, an oilfield supply company, purchased Taylor Ag’s old fertilizer plant on the south side of Watford City. Taylor states that they are looking forward to being able to set up a permanent shop in Watford City, as is KLJ, an engineering company that is currently leasing the old S & S Motors building from Sanford.
“The building has been in my family since the beginning, and I am not ready to part with it yet,” states Sanford.
Both Sanford and Taylor state that they will host open houses in their new facilities once they are settled.