Joe Hurst, a longtime Spink County resident and RDO Equipment Co. team member, retired this month after spending 47 years working with agriculture equipment. Hurst has been with RDO for nearly 20 years and has observed how agriculture has changed in Redfield and surrounding communities during his tenure. “Farms and their equipment needs have grown in size and complexity,” said Hurst, but it is connection across generations that have contributed to his community’s success.”
“Some of these families, it’s a third or fourth generation running the farm,” he said. “I think it’s always a privilege to have young customers come talk to me and say they remember me from when they were kids.”
Hurst built his career in the area he has always called home, as a native of Frankfort just east of Redfield. He spent the first 10 years of his career and got his start in the parts side of the equipment business, at Redfield Sales, a combination Chevrolet and John Deere dealer. He then took a parts role at Spink County Equipment. He entered the equipment industry with little agricultural background but was able to grow his expertise by learning on the job.
“When I was new, the mechanics would take me out on big projects and explain what everything was,” he recalled. “They showed me the parts they needed, and I was able to look them up in the books or microfiche we used back then. It was a good way to learn; machines didn’t have quite so many moving parts as they do now.”
Hurst said making such memorable impressions is simple: keep customers at the forefront of everything you do, and always treat them exactly as you would like to be treated.
“If you don’t do that, they’re going to go someplace else and they’re never going to return. But if you do, they’re going to respect you and want to keep coming back.”
The ability to make a difference for those around him is what has kept Hurst interested in the job for more than four decades – between his customers and teammates, he’s developed relationships that go well beyond just work. From volunteering for Meals on Wheels, to cleaning up ditches, and helping in any other way needed, giving back has been part of the DNA for the Redfield team, and Hurst said the willingness of the team to pitch in and encouragement from the company to do so has been memorable.
“Those were always valuable experiences because they were benefiting the whole community and even the communities around us," he said.
Of particular note for Hurst was Community Builder, an Offutt Family Foundation program that empowers RDO team members to take the lead in nominating deserving charities in their communities for grant considerations. When the program focused on volunteer fire departments in 2017, both Redfield and Frankfort departments were awarded grants from the Offutt Family Foundation.
“That was team members here at the Redfield store who put in for those grants," he said. "It’s such a great opportunity to help the community.”
Looking ahead into his retirement, Joe plans to hit the road and spend time with the people who mean the most to him. He’s mapped out long-overdue visits to friends and relatives in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico.
“After that, it’s back home to spoil the grandkids,” he said.