Rocky Mountain Equipment’s Barrhead location will close Dec. 31.
Jim Wood, Rocky Mountain Equipment’s agriculture vice-president, said the closure is the next step in creating a one-stop shop. This follows the company’s decision to consolidate its Case IH and New Holland branches in Westlock in 2015.
The Barrhead location serves as a parts and service centre for New Holland farm equipment.
“It just makes sense. Our lease is coming up on our Barrhead building and we already service all of our Case brands out of Westlock, so we decided it would be best if we serviced the New Holland brand there as well,” he said, adding the move will have minimal impact on the branch’s employees.
About seven people work at the Barrhead location and Woods said the company is currently working on a plan to transition them to the Westlock location.
“Nobody will be losing their job,” Woods said.
As for how customers of the Barrhead location would be impacted, Woods believes the impact would be minimal.
“Most of the repairs we do are already service calls out at the farm. So we will continue to do that for both brands and we will make sure there are no additional costs for the customers who are used to having the Barrhead branch come out and fix it with less drive time,” he said, adding the company is also in the process of setting up a parts-pickup location in Barrhead, where parts will be delivered on a daily basis. “Of course, in this day and age we can arrange for parts to be delivered right to the customer’s door if they want us to.”
Woods added that just because Rocky Mountain Equipment will no longer have a physical presence in Barrhead, that will not change the commitment it has to the community.
“We still are going to be part of the community and will be sponsoring what we normally sponsor. It’s just a matter that bricks and mortar cost a lot of money and our lease was up,” he said. “With the consolidation at our Westlock store, we have been able to do higher volumes and employ more people, train them better and look after our customers that much better.”
County of Barrhead reeve Bill Lee said he surprised to hear the news.
“It’s really disappointing to hear,” he said, adding that even though Rocky Mountain Equipment is taking steps to minimize the impact, Barrhead area residents will still be negatively impacted.
Lee added for residents living on the east end of the county it might not have much of an effect, but for those living in the northwest sections who have New Holland equipment, the move means a much longer drive.
“If you have to go to Westlock for parts, you will probably be going to get some groceries and other things while you are there. Hopefully someone else will be able to move into the building and make something else out of it,” he said, adding, it is also an opportunity for other area local businesses to step in and fill the void.
Ryan Warehime, Barrhead’s deputy mayor echoed Lee’s sentiment saying he and the rest of council were disappointed when they heard the news.
“It’s never good news when a business leaves Barrhead, it is not something you want to see, but that said it allows for other opportunities for people to come to town or for someone who is already here to start a new business,” he said. “Take KNM for example, it was only a few years ago that they came to town and they seem to be thriving and are a growing business in Barrhead and John Deere is also a strong, established dealership in town.”