Family run business celebrates 100 years, 5 generations

By: Alana Greenfogel Email
By: Alana Greenfogel Email

Louis Gelder remembers stories from his grandfather when the family company sold harnesses for horse and buggies.

Now, Louis enjoys watching his sons and grandsons running the same company, Louis Gelder and Sons in Benton Harbor. But instead of harnesses, they’re selling tractors.

"All this modern equipment! Sometimes I don't even know how to shift a tractor or start sometimes, it's altogether different than it used to be," Louis says with good humor. "The name lives on with this here. There's so many of them that went out of business with farm equipment around these areas. But we're still here."

The Gelder family credits their ability to adapt to the times as an asset that’s kept the company alive for 100 years and five generations.

"Farming is our life. Farming's in our blood," shares Bruce Gelder, fourth generation. "The dirt gets underneath your finger nails and you just can't get rid of it. Scrub all you want. You can't get rid of it."

Bruce and his brother Joe are now running the company. They remember as kids visiting their dad at the shop.

"My dad, every Saturday, would let one of us come to the store with him and we swept the store, filled the pop machine and we always got to get one pop for doing that,” Joe shares. “Then my grandpa would pay us $2."

If you ask the 5th generation if the company will be around for another 100 years, they confidently say, yes.

"We enjoy it so much that we'll do it just because we love it so much," says Marc Gelder, 5th generation.

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