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Bahls Motor and Implement now Minnesota Ag Group, Hastings

The name that has become synonymous with farm machines and equipment is no more. Bahls Motor and Implement is now part of Minnesota Ag Group, a full-line Case IH dealer. In addition to Hastings, the other locations are in Kasson, Northfield and Plainview.

According to Hastings owner/manager John Bahls, a new corporation was created at the Hastings location. It became effective at the end of April and offers better and more services.

"We will have the ability to buy parts at better prices and provide access to bulk oil for our customers," he said. "Plus, we will have the advantages of group inventories for parts and other goods.

"We can provide quicker service during the busy seasons," said Bahls. "With the new guidance systems and automatic steering systems, we can provide a person who specializes in the new technologies that can be shared among the stores," he said. "A single store might not be able to provide the specialization."

Bahls Implement opened at Fifth and Vermillion streets in February of 1930 in the former Wasser Graham-Paige building. The business had been started in Cottage Grove by brothers Ben and George Bahls on April 1, 1921.

In January 1933, they opened the garage and service station at the foot of the Spiral Bridge on Sibley Street in downtown Hastings. The building was owned by L.P. Kingston. A year later they bought the building and consolidated their business there.

In 1935, needing additional space, Ben and George leased the Engle building at Second and Vermillion streets.

In September 1937, Bahls Motor and Bahls Implement were consolidated into one as Bahls Motor and Implement.

In April 1948, the business broke ground for its building on Vermillion Street between 10th and 11th streets (where Walgreens is now). It stayed there for more than 50 years. On July 3, 1963, the building burned. It was rebuilt on the same site.

The Chrysler-Plymouth auto dealership of Bahls Motor and Implement was sold to Doug Erickson and and Jim Gerritsen in November 1998.

Less than a year later, the business left the city it had called home for more than 50 years for a larger building just south of Hastings -- 18202 Nicolai Ave. The steel building provided 30,500 square feet of space for offices, display parts space, conference area and large repair area for tractors and combines. The height of the building in the middle - 26 feet - allowed that repair.

In addition to the Case IH line, Minnesota Ag Group carries products from the following companies: Kuhn Knight, Brillion, Krone, DMI, Gehl, Meyer, Sunflower, ASV, Cub Cadet, Exmark and Woods.

While he is not announcing his retirement, Bahls said the merger offers another advantage.

"The group provides a platform for continuation of services if I decide to retire in a few years," he said.

The Hastings' hours remain the same, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. So does the telephone number - 437-4164.