The Dillan family has sold their family-owned business, Lamar Fertilizer, to Crop Production Services as of Nov. 9. Family owners included, from left, Brad, Paulette and Pete Dillan. (Johnson Publications photo)
Family ownership of Lamar Fertilizer ends
For nearly 45 years, the family-owned business of Lamar Fertilizer served the needs of farmers in Chase, Perkins and Dundy Counties in Nebraska and Phillips and Sedgwick Counties in Colorado.
That service will continue but under new ownership. As of Nov. 9, Crop Production Services (CPS) purchased Lamar Fertilizer from Pete and Paulette Dillan and son Brad.
Brad Dillan will stay on with CPS-Lamar as location manager.
Pete and Paulette said they’d been approached a couple years ago about the possibility of selling. They admitted they hadn’t even thought much about it before that.
They warmed up to the idea and decided the time was right to sell.
Dillans come to Lamar in 1972
Lamar Fertilizer was originally started in 1969 by Wayne Allen of McCook. At the time, he was a part-owner of Perry Grain in Perry, which also had a fertilizer division.
Dillan got his start in Perry, working for Allen in both the grain and fertilizer divisions.
Allen was looking for someone to run the Lamar operation and gave Pete and Paulette the opportunity to buy into the operation. That was 44.5 years ago in 1972.
Pete and Paulette worked side-by-side with Pete man-aging operations and Paulette doing books and whatever else was needed, including making deliveries.
For son Brad, his start in the business came early, accompanying his mother in delivery trucks at the age of
two-and-a-half. She noted he had a keen sense of direction even at that age.
Brad grew up learning how to work. By age 13 he’d learned to drive a truck. By age 15, he was running one of the operation’s row-crop sprayers.
Many changes over years
The Dillans said they’ve witnessed lots of change, both in the Lamar community and the farming and fertilizer industry.
As farmers moved from flood irrigation to pivots, they needed less labor, even with the expansion of their operations. That meant fewer families in the area.
That could be seen in the attendance at Lamar’s grade school. Brad said when he started school at Lamar, there were 70 kids. By the time he finished eighth grade in the mid ’80s, enrollment was down to 35.
There has been plenty of changes in equipment, as well.
Pete remembers their first sprayer—a Chevy chassis fitted with a 42-foot boom.
Then came the three-wheel sprayers with a 60-foot boom. Today, they run high-clearance row crop machines with 120-foot booms.
As more farmers converted to pivots and started using fertigation, the company opted to discontinue anhydrous ammonia sales in 1982.
Pete said he saw a person blinded with the product and he didn’t want to be responsible for that happening to any of his customers. Plus, the liability insurance got more expensive each year.
Some of the biggest changes in the fertilizer business have come in the form of concentrated herbicides and insecticides.
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