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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Washta's Shade Tree the cure for harvest headaches

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tools of the trade - Jerry Townsend's Shade Tree Machine Shop has enough tools to tackle any task - including torches, welders, saws and the drill seen in this photo. Photo by Ron Flewelling.
WASHTA - For a farmer, it's the worst case scenario.

You are in the middle of a busy harvest season when a vital gear or other sundry part, touted previously by the implement dealer as "unbreakable," snaps off and leaves you stranded right in the middle of a corn row.

To further complicate matters, the meteorologist on the weather channel has just informed you that there is an early storm brewing just over the horizon.

Unless you enjoy bringing in your corn crop when the snow is hip high on an end gate seeder, it's imperative that you get your combine up and running immediately...if not sooner.

Down at the southern end of the county, your first stop might possibly be the Washta Shade Tree Machine Shop, a business custom made to be the cure-all for those harvest headaches.

The Shade Tree Shop has been catering to area farmers' needs for the past 17 years.

Wagon, Ho! Although the Shade Tree has only been open for a month, Jerry Townsend has tackled a wide variety of repair tasks, a lengthy list that included working on this grain wagon. Photo by Ron Flewelling.
It was launched in 1991 by Gene Ebert of rural Washta who operated the business for several years before selling the shop to Jerry Tuttle, also of rural Washta.

For the next 13 years, Tuttle operated the Shade Tree until his untimely death late last year.

For the next several months, the machine shop remained closed, leaving local farmers and other customers to go elsewhere for those important ag equipment repairs.

Last month, however, the Shade Tree Machine Shop was once again open and ready for business when it was bought by Jerry Townsend, a local talent who has resided in rural Washta most of his life.

Besides hailing from a farming background, Townsend's bona fides for his new business venture include over 17 years of experience at the business end of a welder.

His resume' includes eight years of employment at Sands' Seed Service in Marcus where his primary duties were welding repairs.

From Sands' Seed, Townsend moved on to Quimby where he spent the next nine years keeping the welding rods hot working for Simonsen Manufacturing.

Throughout his years at Simsonsen's, Townsend's trips to and from work would take him right past the Shade Tree's front door.

"I thought that it would be both challenging and interesting to work at the Shade Tree," Townsend recalled. "And I often considered stopping and asking Jerry Tuttle if he needed any part time help during the busy seasons."

Several months after the Shade Tree owner's death, Townsend approached the Tuttle family to discuss the possibility of leasing or renting the business.

"They told me that they were more interested in selling the Shade Tree," Townsend said. "About a month ago, after some negotiation, we finalized the deal and I became the machine shop's new owner."

It less time than it takes to light an acetylene torch, the Shade Tree's new operator and head welder had his new enterprise open and ready for business.

"The Shade Tree can handle just about any ag repair imaginable," Townsend said. "We are able to manufacture new parts to specifications as well as repair broken ones."

Townsend does indeed have enough tools of the trade to tackle any problem.

The Shade Tree offers both wire and stick welding services and boasts of plasma and oxy-acetylene cutting, metal sawing and drilling capabilities.

In addition, the machine shop has a hand brake that is capable of fabricating and bending up to 13 gauge steel.

Townsend admits that his first weeks of business have been busy ones.

"I've tackled quite a variety of repair jobs," he said. "I've worked on a bale carrier, repaired a bunch of livestock gates and done some work on wagons."

Townsend also notes that he has been doing some on-site repairs, a service he hopes to expand in the coming months.

Getting his new business up and going hasn't stopped the Washta welder from making future plans for the machine shop.

"I hope to expand the Shade Tree to the point where I can design, manufacture and market new products," he said. "I'm always ready for a good challenge!"

Jerry Townsend and his wife Janelle reside in rural Grand Meadow Township.

They have three children - Justine, Allie and Jacob, all students in the Kingsley-Pierson School District.

The Shade Tree Machine Shop's hours are from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. till noon on Saturdays.

The Shade Tree's shop phone number is 447-6300.

Townsend also notes that in case of an emergency, he can be reached on his cell phone at 712-389-0014.

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