Thousands of would-be auction items collected over the course of more than six decades perched expectantly on various trailers positioned throughout Kraft Repair, awaiting a new owner who would take them home for the highest bid. Lloyd Kraft’s fingers graced the neatly organized collector’s items including tractor parts, Pioneer Seed nostalgia, antique signs, shop equipment and thousands of systematically arranged bolts in tidily-labeled bins.
“This is a husker that was used to pick corn by hand,” Kraft said, lifting the multi-pronged contraption out of a box. “You take the best seed and use it for corn next year.”
With help from his children, John and Kim, Kraft had spent many weeks preparing for the retirement auction which had to be rescheduled from earlier this year until June due to the coronavirus. But this wasn’t the first time that the shop on Main Street in Wessington Springs has been a family affair.
Built in 1947, the building began as L.B. Leischner Implement, an Alice-Chalmers tractor dealership.
“My brother Don worked as a mechanic when it was first built. At that time, I was in grade school,” Lloyd recalls.
When Don left the shop to farm, Lloyd’s first cousin Dale, (a double cousin, Lloyd explained due to their mothers being sisters and dads being brothers) began working there.
“The last year Dale was at the shop working as a mechanic in 1957 my brother Garfield bought the place,” Lloyd explained.
After finishing high school, Lloyd served in the army and upon returning to Springs he imagined he'd work for his dad on the farm but life had other plans.
“There was a bad drought in 1956,” remembers Lloyd. “So I started working at the shop part time.”
When cousin Dale relocated to Minnesota after purchasing a farm in 1958, Lloyd took on more hours at the shop.
“I was finally working full time at the shop, working on tractors right there,” he said as he pointed to a spot in the center of the shop. “Garfield ran it until 1965 until he became the postmaster.”
In 1965, the shop became B&L Implement — named for the owners, Bob Willman and Lloyd Kraft.
“We became partners. Bob did body work on autos and I was working on tractors,” he said.
For two years the duo worked together until in 1967, the partnership amicably dissolved when Bob decided to build his own building on Dakota Ave North.
In November of 1967 the shop where Lloyd had begun his career became Kraft Repair.
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