The inaugural class of the Shortline Legends Hall of Fame is Roy Applequist, founder of Great Plains Mfg.; Jon Kinzenbaw, founder of Kinze Mfg.; Don Landoll, founder of Landoll Corp.; Joe MacDonald, founder of MacDon; and Gary Vermeer, founder of Vermeer Corp. — all companies with ties to no-till.
Kim Schmidt, executive editor of No-Till Farmer, and Mike Lessiter, president of No-Till Farmer, presented Landoll and Applequist with the award during the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA) Marketing & Distribution Convention in Kansas City Nov. 2. MacDonald died in 1991, and Vermeer died in 2009. Kinzenbaw was not in attendance at the FEMA ceremony.
Farm Equipment, also owned by No-Till Farmer parent company Lessiter Media, launched the award program in 2023 to record the individuals whose shortline innovations impacted the machinery and dealer distribution industry in North America. Learn more about the members of the inaugural class:
Applequist, a No-Till Legend from Salina, Kan., founded Great Plains Mfg., a company built on agronomic knowledge and farming concepts. Not only was Applequist a pioneer in developing no-till drills, but his firm supported the much-needed education required to advance any change in traditional farming. Great Plains was the recipient of the 2010 No-Till Innovator Award in the business and service category for the firm’s commitment to helping growers adopt no-till techniques.
At 21 years old, Kinzenbaw opened a welding shop in 1965 that would eventually become Kinze Mfg. After struggling for almost a decade, Kinzenbaw made his mark with the introduction of the grain cart. Later, his innovative planter design leapfrogged the rest of the industry and propelled the company to one of the largest, privately held agricultural equipment manufacturers in North America. And along the way to building the Kinze Mfg. of today, Kinzenbaw stood up to John Deere — and won. Kinzenbaw was named the 2000 No-Till Innovator in the equipment design category.
Landoll and his mentor started a business offering general welding, radiator repair and blacksmith services in 1963, and Landoll went on to become the sole proprietor 3.5 years later. Landoll Corp. went on to build dual toolbars, chisel plows, trailers for military equipment, no-till equipment and more. Today, Landoll continues to stress the importance of diversification and his belief that one person's problem reveals another's opportunity.
“The world’s greatest entrepreneur still must solve somebody’s problem to find success,” he says.
Joseph A. MacDonald
MacDonald's company, today known as MacDon, started when MacDonald's friend, Tom Killbery, asked him to rescue Killbery Industries, a struggling swather manufacturing enterprise, in 1971. MacDonald bought out the business, and thanks to his business acumen and a resurgence in grain prices, the company rebounded in 1976 and was renamed to MacDon. His plan for the company bearing his name was to remake it into an OEM powerhouse based on Killbery’s acclaimed swather. In the mid-1980s, MacDon vigorously pursued the development of draper technology, and the MacDon harvest header was brought to market in 1988.
Vermeer Corp.'s roots go back to World War II, when founder Gary Vermeer was looking for a way to speed up the unloading of corn in a tight labor market. The result was Vermeer’s invention of a mechanical wagon hoist. He also went onto invent the round baler, a tool that dramatically reduced the backbreaking labor required to bale hay by hand, and the industry's first self-propelled round baler.