Combine World: Who is Combine World?
“So, how did Combine World start?” Even the people who have known us for years often don’t know the story of Combine World.
Well, let me share it with you. I’m Jodie, and along with my brother Eric, we represent the second generation of Smiths doing what we love. This is the story of how Combine World came to be.
Charlie Smith grew up in the salvage industry. His dad was selling used tractor parts before he was born. At age 12, Charlie found his first love: business. He opened an antique store right beside the salvage yard. As a young man, he also loved farming, and that love of farming has never left him. By the time he was 20, he had made farming his career. He found his true love in 1986 when he married Marjorie, and they started Combine Salvage as a way to supplement their farming operation. Combine Salvage was located on the home quarter, in the exact same spot the tractor salvage had been located years earlier. It was a true home based business, husband and wife working together and one hired man helping out where needed.
In 1994, they decided to move the entire Combine Salvage operation to where it currently sits on Hwy #16 near Elstow. The old spot on the home place was a challenge to find, down several miles of gravel roads. The visibility at this new location was exceptional: right on the Yellowhead Highway, not far from Saskatoon. The other thing was, when your business is located where you live, it’s pretty tough to ever truly be closed. Marj and Charlie decided it would be best for their family if their home and business were no longer one and the same.
And so began the transition to a new location. The first salvage combine, a White 8900, was hauled up from the old spot. A shop was constructed. The shop, which ended up being our sales office for 20 plus years, was far from purpose built. It was used to store oats for the first years of its life.
The first combine, a White 8900 arrives in 1994. The building, which ended up being the main office, was storing oats at the time.
The new location brought as many challenges as it did opportunities. It took almost 10 years for Charlie and Marj to realize that between farming, raising a family, and operating a growing business, something had to give. They decided to rent out their farmland and focus on their business and family. Shortly after this, they realized that “Combine Salvage” no longer accurately represented what they did. They were dabbling in manufacturing, offering many new parts options for farm equipment, and refurbishing and selling complete machines. Combine Salvage became Combine World.
The agricultural industry has had its share of ups and downs, and Combine World was no exception. The “family farm”, as most farms were, was evolving into a larger, more corporate model. Technology was changing. The needs of modern farmers were very different than they had been in the 80’s. Many of the Mom and Pop salvage operations that had become so prevalent had slowly lost their relevance and closed their doors. Though many people had their doubts, Charlie believed there was still opportunity in the used parts business, but he knew they had to make some fundamental changes to the way they operated in order to avoid the same fate as most of their competition. That realization brought about a pivotal shift in the way Combine World did things, and thus began our journey to where we are today.
Combine World’s focus has been, and will always be, the customers we serve. But we wouldn’t be able to serve our customers to the absolute best of our ability without an exceptional team. Over the years, we have collected a group of people who are fun, happy, motivated, caring, smart… all of the qualities that I would want in someone I was trusting to help me. We’re constantly learning, constantly growing as individuals and as a team. Our team members are our ambassadors, the people in direct communication with our customers. Without them, we would be nothing. Saying we’re only customer focused isn’t accurate. We’re equally employee focused.
Combine World Team picture, summer 2018.
Our team members are some of the nicest people you’ve ever met, and they’re also qualified. Aside from the technical and personal development we do on the job every day, our people are journeyperson welders and mechanics, business grads, apprentices and parts and logistics specialists. We are true solution providers. Some of us are farm kids. Some of us are city slickers. But we have the most important things in common: a desire to help people, and to do our best.
Today, we have over 20 employees at our Elstow (Saskatoon) location, and we opened a location just outside Brandon, MB in August 2018 to better serve our customers to the east. And now I’m sitting in my kitchen, crafting our first blog post for the same reason: to better serve our customers.
Eric and I, representing the second Smith generation, and a Combine World aerial.
We want you to know what we’re all about, how we do things, and why we do things the way we do. We’ll explain our new products and initiatives, and share our experience in ways that you will hopefully find interesting and maybe sometimes even funny. Many team members will be contributing to our blog, and we’re excited for you to get to know us. The better we can help everyone understand our motivations, the stronger a bond we can build between ourselves, our customers, and our community.
We’re here for the long run, and we want you to be part of our adventure.