By Jeff Tribe, The Woodstock Local
There is a global pandemic going on.
But people have to eat, and so farmers have to carry on with what arguably is ‘the’ essential service.
“The most important,” said Gary Klyn of GJ’s Harvest Centre, south of Woodstock along Oxford Road 59. “No food, no life.”
COVID-19 has brought challenges to the combined agricultural dealership, parts, and service operation, but it has not halted what Klyn describes as “slow but sure” growth. On Jan. 4, he and his wife Corrie broke out a golden shovel for an official ground-breaking ceremony on a 7,500-square-foot expansion that will come close to doubling GJ’s current operational footprint.
The 60-by-125-foot structure will feature 24-foot (wide) by 20-foot doors generously-sized to accommodate the massive scale of contemporary combining and harvesting equipment.
“Big stuff,” explained Klyn.
They did fit into the previous 50-by-100-foot service structure he says.
“But it was tight.”
The expansion will also allow the current 50-by-60-foot parts and showroom facility to expand into a portion of that existing 5,000-square-foot service area.
Klyn left a well-paying job to found GJ’s in 2000 along Evergreen St. north of Norwich, beginning in a barn with space enough for two tractors. The business plan he shared with Corrie was to work on his own within an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule, which due to the time-sensitive requirements of the agricultural community, was an early casualty.
“That’s come up a few times,” he laughed.
The operation moved to its current location in 2006, expanding into what was then a 40-by-70 structure. GJ’s currently employs 17 with a machinery line featuring Claas tractors and hay equipment, McCormick tractors, Salford and Lemken tillage equipment, Ferris lawnmowers, a wide range of parts, both stocked and able to be ordered, as well as its full-service department for all machinery makes and models.
“We always say it’s a team effort, we work as a team,” Klyn summed up the company’s ongoing growth.
GJ’s has pivoted to implement COVID-19 protocols including masks, standardized procedures, and enhanced cleaning in high-traffic areas. Throughout, it has been able to not only meet the current needs of its clients but look to expanded future operations.
“We’re very excited about the whole thing,” Klyn concluded.