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Monroe Tractor Celebrates 70 Years of Business

HENRIETTA, NY — It all started in May of 1951 in a 30 by 40-foot cinder block building in Henrietta, New York. When Monroe Tractor’s Founder, Henry Hansen and wife Dorothy Hansen opened the doors to their family’s Case agriculture dealership they had a mission: “Where courtesy dwells, service excels.” Henry built his customer relationships on trust and adapting to a changing world for long-term survival.

“I don’t know if they even rented cars back then,” Henry said. “We started with one piece of equipment that we rented, so we had to make sure it ran.” Soon after, 11 new machines were purchased. Monroe was a rental business back then, and they were the only ones renting at that time. The concept was a success that led to increased competition for both rental and permanent business.

Monroe is a company that has remained family-owned and operated and continues to grow today across New York state, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont.

What started the business as an agriculture dealership soon led to acquiring Case construction equipment when a Pippin backhoe and loader was attached to a Case tractor in 1956. And in 1963 the Case construction line was added, just in time for the 1965 suburban housing development, where Monroe saw substantial growth in its construction equipment division.

After graduating from Kent University and getting engaged, Henry’s daughter Janet Felosky joined the company in 1972 working as a Parts Technician, then as a Credit Assistant and on to Credit Manager for several years.

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In 1973, the agriculture portion of the business moved to rural Batavia and Canandaigua. While these two stores were successfully opened, the Henrietta store was restructured to support the construction and government agency markets. In 1983, the second construction equipment location opened in Buffalo, New York, followed by the third in Syracuse, New York, in 1986. In 1988, the third agriculture store opened in Adams Center, New York, making it a six-location operation — three construction locations and three agriculture locations.

In 1990, Henry saw the talent and interest in his daughter and announced Janet as President of Monroe Tractor. Knowing that the Henrietta store was in need of renovations, in December 1999 the Henrietta store and corporate headquarters moved to a new building up the road to better support its customers.

In 2001, Janet’s son, Chris Felosky joined the family business where he served as a Sales Representative for five years. After gaining sales experience, Chris was named the Product Support Manager of Monroe Tractor. Here, he developed a new department and new focus for all Monroe Tractor locations — the ability for Monroe Tractor to produce the parts and service solutions their customer’s needed, regardless of the brand equipment they owned. Chris next took on the role of corporate Parts and Service Manager for both the Ag and Ce stores. In 2016, he accepted the role of the agriculture division’s General Manager.

More expansion came in 2008 when Randall Hansen of S.C. Hansen made plans to retire. Monroe wanted to keep S.C. Hansen, which was founded by Henry’s brother Stewart, in the family. This acquisition expanded Monroe Tractor into Albany, Elmira, Binghamton, and Hornell, New York. In December 2017, Monroe combined the Elmira and Hornell stores at a newly built facility in Campbell, New York.

Janet’s daughter, Laura Wilkas, joined the company in 2011 and took the role of Marketing Director. She successfully re-branded Monroe Tractor and continues today working with the 13 branches building the culture, company values, and the Monroe Tractor brand. “My grandfather built relationships and maintained them. It isn’t much different than how we do it now, and that is through having good people who genuinely care about the customer,” Wilkas said.

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In 2013, Janet took over the CEO role from her father to allow him to step aside. In October of 2014, Henry passed away at the age of 94. His vision and values for the company remain in place today through daughter Janet, grandson Chris, and granddaughter Laura.

In 2019, Janet passed the torch to the next generation, announcing Chris as President. Chris had been preparing for this position since he shared his desire and interest in the business and carries on with the same philosophy he learned from his mother and grandfather: “Take care of the customer and the company will grow."

“With his energy and passion for the business, Chris will lead with his leadership team through the next period of growth providing support for the branches," Janet said.

Monroe is backed by the reputation and performance of the Case, Case IH, Wirtgen Group, LeeBoy, Screen Machine, Claas, Kuhn Krause, and more equipment. It also offers an inventory of OEM and aftermarket parts at affordable prices. The company has a team of service techs that provide in-shop service, emergency service, and field service with trucks that can make in-shop equipment repairs on-site.

Monroe Tractor has also developed relationships with local educational institutions at various levels of study. They educate students about the career opportunities with the company and support interns that have transitioned to be some of the company's employees.

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In July 2017, Case Corporation approached Monroe to purchase Case of New England in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, which was then relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts, to offer a more centralized location. A complete store remodel now provides better support and service to customers in the entire state of Massachusetts. The Hartford, Connecticut, location opened shortly after, now Connecticut’s only Case dealer that also serves Rhode Island. As this was happening, the agriculture division entered into Vermont where they provide support for the CLAAS product line.

“We’re there to keep you doing your job,” Wilkas said. “We try to make sure that our customers are comfortable in every department while doing business with us. How we build relationships and maintain them now isn’t much different from how relationships were built by my grandfather, and that’s through having good people who care about the customer."

The entire Monroe Tractor team, at all 13 locations, looks forward to guiding Monroe Tractor into its next 70 years of growth. “Thank you to our customers for giving us that opportunity,” Chris and Laura said.

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