One common narrative we often hear pertaining to successful people is the story of the “farmer turned retail business owner”. These individuals have proven to be some of the most resilient the nation has to offer – as farms and agricultural-related businesses gradually phased out of our region, these men and women found another way to succeed. Among those who have achieved this feat is Dick Warner, the founder of Warner Sales & Service in Rome – and today, his children Eric and Lynn have continued the company’s growth.
Born and raised just outside of Verona, Dick Warner (the fourth-born of five boys) received an education that most kids today would find difficult to grasp. From an early age, he rose with the sun and performed his daily chores to help keep the family farm going. While he learned how to perform a variety of tasks and operate various pieces of equipment, the two biggest lessons he received held intangible value. First, he found out quickly that if there was work to be done, talking and complaining about it wasn’t going to cut it. Second, he learned that if one works hard enough, anything is possible – this became evident to him by watching his father make a living off soil that, quite frankly, wasn’t great for farming.
Years later, Dick purchased a farm of his own and looked to make a living as he always had. Unfortunately, while working with one of his cows, he sustained an injury that left him unable to continue his life as a farmer. Over the next several years, Dick worked a wide variety of jobs, attempting to find his way. He once again became his own boss in 1974 when he opened Chuckery Tire & Equipment in Clinton.
In the beginning, there were times Dick barely made it by. But by channeling himself back to the farmer’s mentality and taking an exceptionally honest approach to customer relations, Dick was able to survive the hardest of financial times. He believed that if he did right by the people he served, his business would be rewarded – and he was right. *Heading into the mid-1980s, Chuckery Tire was growing steadily and Dick felt it was time to expand the operation. In 1985, he purchased a farm equipment business on Route 365 in Rome, naming it Warner Sales & Service.
**In 1988, when things finally seemed to be going great, Chuckery burned to the ground. One positive that came from the tragic fire was that Dick – now joined by his kids, Eric and Lynn – was now able to put all his time and effort into Warner Sales & Service. ***One of the most business savvy decisions he made with Warner was seizing the sale of large farm equipment – he realized that the majority of the farms in his market were quite small. He decided the store would focus primarily on the selling, renting and servicing of compact excavators – namely, the Bobcat brand. This decision proved to work greatly in the business’ favor and helped them achieve sustainability to this day.
What truly has kept Warner Sales & Service successful over forty-five years is their integrity. In recent years, Dick has been able to step down from day-to-day operations because he instilled his standard for honesty and dedication in both Eric and Lynn, who run the business today. Since Eric was sixteen years-old, it’s the only job he’s ever had and after seeing his dad work more than eighty hours per week, he knows what it takes to keep Warner going strong. ****In the late 1980s-early 1990s, Lynn moved out of the area and started a family, but when Warner’s longtime bookkeeper left the company in 1995, she answered the call and has been committed to the business ever since.
Thanks to Eric, Lynn, and a carefully handpicked staff, the company today has grown and evolved substantially. Today, they specialize in sales and service of: Bobcat Skid Steer Loader, Compact Excavators, Track Loaders, Utility Vehicles as well as Hustler Turf Equipment. *****The sales and service team is highly experienced and Warner’s pricing structure has been found suitable for a diverse customer base that includes farmers, contractors, material handling facilities, municipalities, schools, landscapers, and private individuals. Whether you need the equipment for a weekend or a decade, the Warner family prides itself on providing the service and machinery necessary to leave customers in a better circumstance than prior to entering the store.
When speaking to Dick about the family business, he is always quick to mention just how proud he is of Eric and Lynn for the way they’ve carried on the Warner name. Just in watching the way they conduct themselves with customers, he realizes he had a strong impact on them. Eric and Lynn are just as quick to give their dad the credit for setting a strong foundation for them and sacrificing so much to provide for their family. To this day they repeat quotes Dick shared with them over the years – none more relevant than the one they live by, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”
For more information on Warner Sales & Service, visit WarnerSS.com, call 315-336-0311 or stop by the store on Route 365 in Rome.