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L.F. Trottier & Sons selling its John Deere dealerships

  • Ellen Trottier, vice president of customer experience, talks with customer Bryan Harrington, of Royalton, as Jeremy Smith, left, rings up a part at L.F. Trottier & Sons, in Royalton, Vt., on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Trottier’s father, Larry, announced to employees Friday over a lunch meeting that he is in talks to sell the business to a Texas-based distributor of John Deere equipment. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Larry Trottier, 75, started an auto shop that later grew into a family of John Deere equipment dealerships at his father’s farm in Royalton in 1971. He announced Friday that he plans to sell the business to a Texas-based distributor of John Deere equipment.(Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Scott Reynolds, of Randolph, works on a tractor at L.F. Trottier & Sons, where he is the longest-standing employee at 35 years, in South Royalton, Vt., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. A sale of the business to a Texas-based distributor of John Deere equipment would allow Trottier’s 19 employees at two Upper Valley locations to stay on. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Larry Trottier started an auto shop on his father’s farm in Royalton, Vt., in 1971, and though the business still maintains an automobile inspection station, its focus is selling and repairing John Deere farm and garden equipment. As part of a sale announced Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, Trottier will retain ownership of the building and land at the original Royalton location and lease the premises to the new distributor. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 1/31/2020 6:47:27 PM
Modified: 1/31/2020 10:10:14 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — L.F. Trottier & Sons, the longtime dealer of John Deere farm and garden equipment in the core of the Upper Valley, told employees Friday that it is in talks to sell the family-owned business to a large Texas-based distributor of John Deere equipment.

The Trottier family, which operates John Deere dealerships in South Royalton and Hartland, said they expect to close on the sale by March 31.

Larry Trottier told employees during a lunch and company meeting at the company’s South Royalton location. The buyer has committed to keep on all the company’s 19 employees, Trottier said, including his daughter, Ellen Trottier, and his sons, Tom and Andy Trottier, each of whom has a senior role in the business.

The family did not want to identify the buyer publicly pending the close of the sale.

The 75-year-old Larry Trottier said in an interview that the sale is motivated by his desire to slow down after 48 years in business, as well as John Deere’s increasing move toward large regional dealerships as the number of small, independent dealerships shrinks nationwide.

He likened the sale of the family’s farm equipment business to the many family-owned car dealerships in the Upper Valley which in recent years have sold to regional and out-of-state dealership groups as the economics of the business favor bigger operators.

“The handwriting is on the wall. We’re just one small dealership,” Trottier said, who added that he is among the last — if not the sole — independent John Deere dealers in Vermont.

“This way our 4,000 to 5,000 customers will still have a place to get their sales and service where, if we were not here, that wouldn’t happen,” he said.

Trottier, a South Royalton native who stepped down from the Royalton Selectboard after 15 years — 13 as chairman — at last year’s Town Meeting, first opened his own auto and equipment repair shop in 1971 and followed a year later, at 26 years old, with the John Deere dealership on the corner of Dairy Hill Road and Ducker Road in South Royalton.

He opened a second John Deere location in downtown White River Junction in 1990, which relocated to an expanded site just off the Exit 9 ramp on Interstate 91 in Hartland in 2015.

Trottier said he had other offers to buy his business over the years but always turned them down because “I was a lot younger.”

He said the latest approach from the Texas company came “in the middle of October.”

Ellen Trottier, 44, said the business will benefit from ownership by a bigger company because, in addition to discounts on parts and supplies that they can pass along in lower prices to customers, employees will have better pay and benefits “and have a better career path to move forward.”

“They have assured us that we have a successful dealership and they want to keep it that way, keep everything intact as it is. ... We’re excited that they will care about our employees the way we have cared about them,” she said.

The Trottiers plan to keep ownership of the land and building in South Royalton and lease them to the new owners of the business. They are selling both the property and the business in Hartland.

That will be the second well-known farm equipment dealership name to fade away in the White River Valley.

L. W. Greenwood & Sons in East Randolph sold to Champlain Valley Equipment in 2014, and four years later Champlain Valley Equipment closed the business and consolidated its operations at its Berlin, Vt., location nearly 30 miles away.

Larry Trottier, who will turn 76 in early June, said he has been gradually slowing down in recent years but he doesn’t plan to stop altogether — he still snowmobiles — even after selling the business.

He said he’ll most likely still go to the store in the mornings.

“I like to keep busy. I won’t just stop,” he said.

John Lippman can be reached at jlippman@vnews.com.


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