Monroe Tractor celebrates 70 years and still growing – locally
It began in May 1951 in a 30-by-40-foot cinder block building in Henrietta, NY. When Monroe Tractor’s founder Henry Hansen and his wife Dorothy opened the doors to their family’s Case agriculture dealership they had a mission: “Where courtesy dwells, service excels.” Henry’s vision for the company: “If you take care of the customer, the business will grow.”
Henry built his business relationships on trust and adapting to a changing world. In Monroe’s case, Henry was a pioneer in rental. “I don’t know if they even rented cars back then,” he 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. It was a risk, but a good one. They were the only ones renting at that time. The concept was a success that quickly led to increased competition for both rental and permanent business.
Monroe has remained family-owned and operated and continues to grow today across New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont.
What started 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. This machine became the most versatile combination of all diggers – it did it all. In 1963 the Case construction line was added, just in time for the 1965 suburban housing development, when Monroe saw substantial growth in its construction equipment division.
After graduating from college, 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.
In 1973 the ag portion of the business was successfully moved to Batavia and Canandaigua. The Henrietta store was restructured to support the construction and government agency markets. In 1983, the second construction equipment location opened in Buffalo, followed by the third in Syracuse in 1986. In 1988, the third ag store opened in Adams Center, making it a six-location operation.
In 1990, Henry announced Janet as president of Monroe Tractor. Knowing the Henrietta store was in dire need of renovations, in December 1999 the 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. He was later named product support manager. 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 customers 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 construction equipment stores. In 2016, he became the ag division’s general manager.
More expansion came in 2008 when Randall Hansen of S.C. Hansen made plans to retire. Nothing could be more appropriate than keeping S.C. Hansen, which was founded by Henry’s brother Stewart, in the family. “The merging of two family-owned and operated businesses, with a combined 118 years of industry experience, had a positive impact for all who have equipment needs,” Janet stated. This acquisition expanded Monroe Tractor into Albany, Elmira, Binghamton and Hornell. In December 2017, Monroe combined the Elmira and Hornell stores at a newly built facility in Campbell where they support both the ag and construction markets.
Janet’s daughter Laura Wilkas joined the company in 2011 as the marketing director. She successfully re-branded Monroe Tractor and continues working with the 13 branches building the culture, company values and the Monroe Tractor brand.
In 2013, Janet took over the CEO role from her father to allow him to step aside. In October 2014, Henry Hansen passed away at age 94. He is still missed today by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. His vision and values for the company remain in place today through Janet, Chris and Laura.
In July 2017, Monroe Tractor debuted its presence in New England. Case Corporation approached them to purchase Case of New England in Shrewsbury, MA, which was relocated to Worcester, to offer a more centralized location. A complete store remodel now provides better support and service to customers in Massachusetts. The Hartford, CT, location opened shortly after – Connecticut’s only Case dealer that also serves Rhode Island. As this was happening, the ag division entered Vermont, where they provide support for the CLAAS product line.
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. He 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 his leadership team through the next period of growth providing support for the branches,” said Janet.
Monroe is backed by the reputation and performance of the Case, Case IH, Wirtgen Group, LeeBoy, Screen Machine, Claas, Kuhn Krause and several more brand name equipment companies. It also offers a broad inventory of OEM and aftermarket parts at affordable prices. It has a team of knowledgeable service techs that provide in-shop service, responsive emergency service and field service with trucks that can make in-shop equipment repairs on-site. It’s built an unmatched precision farming and machine control team to fit most brands of equipment and provide support to all customers regardless of the brand equipment they own.
Monroe Tractor has also developed relationships with local educational institutions at various levels of study. They educate students about the array of career opportunities with the company and support interns that have transitioned to be some of its valued employees.
You can count on Monroe to provide its employees with the necessary tools, training and equipment to guarantee they have what it takes to deliver on the company’s brand promise. “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,” Laura said.
The entire Monroe Tractor team looks forward to guiding Monroe Tractor into its next 70 years of growth. “Thank you to our customers for giving us that opportunity,” said Chris Felosky and Laura Wilkas.