A family business that started as a blacksmith shop 120 years ago in downtown Waterloo and evolved into one of the largest farm implement dealers in the region has decided to close its doors.
“It’s just time to get out,” said Mike Glessner, 62, co-owner of Metzger Equipment Co. at 1000 Park Street (Route 156) on the west end of town with his brother Jim, 58.
The Glessners can take some solace in knowing the business — founded in 1892 by their blacksmithing great-grandfather Frank Metzger — will be making a return to its roots.
The family is close to finalizing a sale of the building to a welding, fabrication and ornamental iron business.
“I guess it has kind of come full circle,” Mike Glessner said.
While supplies last, Metzger Equipment will be selling oil and petroleum products at 10 percent off and parts and other items in the store at 20 percent off.
An auction will be held March 24-25 on various other store items — including shop tools, vehicles and equipment plus years of operator and service manuals and other materials.
Metzger’s was one of the longest continuously running International Harvester/Case IH dealerships in the country until the company ended its partnership with them a few years ago.
“I think Schaeperkoetter Sales & Service in Mt. Sterling, Mo. had us beat by a couple of years,” Mike Glessner said.
The farm and lawn equipment dealer also recently lost Cub Cadet, leaving it with a limited inventory of Kubota tractors and utility vehicles, and Arctic Cat ATVs to sell.
“I just hate to see another family business closing up in town,” Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said. “But it looks like another example of the larger corporations not helping out the small dealerships. They’ll be missed.”
Jim Glessner said it was the family’s intention to have a new owner come in and continue the dealership.
“We just couldn’t find anyone,” he said. “We tried. It’s not the best situation for us, our customers or our employees.”
The company currently employs six. Mike Glessner said he plans to take some time off from working; Jim said he really hasn’t had a chance to think about what lies ahead.
In 1877, a 17-year-old Frank Metzger of Floraville became an apprentice blacksmith under Henry Oldendorph, who ran a shop in downtown Waterloo.
In 1892, Metzger opened his own blacksmith shop with Ernst Wolf on Mill Street.
Years later, Metzger entered into the machine business, purchasing the shop and equipment of Louis Wall at Third and Church.
Here, Metzger sold all kinds of farm implements, including McCormick-Deering tractors, John Deere and J.I. Case plows, and renamed his business Frank Metzger Farm Implements and Blacksmithing.
In 1911, ground was purchased for building on West Third Street. Just four years later, Frank turned the booming business over to his son Louis. The company, now known as Louis J. Metzger Implement Co., then moved to 111 W. Third Street.
After the death of Louis in 1928, the company officially became incorporated as his brothers, William and Fred Metzger, ran the operation along with Otto Goeddel, a brother-in-law.
At this time, the business grew to become one of the largest implement distributors in the area and had offices in Waterloo, Red Bud and Valmeyer.
Robert W. Glessner took over the business in 1955 and served as owner until his death in 1976.
Metzger Equipment was then owned and operated by a partnership that included Lucille Glessner, mother of Jim and Mike, along with Glenn Keim and Lester Stueve.
The company moved to its present location in 1980.
Jim and Mike Glessner said they have owned and operated the business since 1992.
“We had a good run,” Jim said. “We’d certainly like to thank all of our many customers over the years for their loyalty, friendship and business.”