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Ludens IncWeb Exclusive
If you are driving just west of Sioux Falls on Interstate 90, you’ve probably noticed the large trailer and corn head inventory north of the Interstate at the Humboldt exit. This is the site of the family owned Ludens, Inc. Ludens, Inc is located 16 miles west of Sioux Falls at Humboldt on I-90. The company primarily sells and services trailers and corn heads (attachments to combines to harvest corn) as well as skid steer attachments and acreage equipment, which includes small tractors, skid steers, rotor tillers and snow blowers.
Allen Ludens started the company in southern Sioux Falls (what is now 85th and Louise Avenue). Today, he is joined by two of his sons; Landon manages the store and Jason manages the shop. Allen Ludens started buying and selling farm equipment after returning homefrom a tour of duty in the Marine Corps in 1968. He continued trading farm equipment on a part-time basis while farming and working in Sioux Fallsuntil 1977. In 1977, he went into the farm equipment business full-time and started Ludie’s Implement. In 1987, Ludens moved his business to Parker when he had the opportunity to purchase an implement building owned by Gary and Grace Lukes. The business was renamed Ludens Implement.
Allen continued to offer used equipment and began to focus on the building and rebuilding of John Deere corn heads. This focus brought customers from North and South America. In the late 90’s, Ludens began to test the trailer market by offering a handful of flatbed trailers. In 2003, the business had an opportunity to purchase their current location at Humboldt. The location previously housed two John Deere dealerships: Dakotaland and before that Puthoff and Shumaker. Ludens moved his company to this location because of the visibility on I-90, the proximity to Sioux Falls, and a larger building and lot size. The new location offered an excellent opportunity to expand the trailer lines and continue to offer acreage equipment and used John Deere corn heads. In 2012, the name was changed to Ludens, Inc.
“We are full line trailer dealer for PJ Trailers, Titan, High Country and US Cargo. We are a short line dealer for Koyker Loaders, Lorenz Manufacturing, MDS Manufacturing, Maurer Manufacturing, and Farm King,” says Ludens. Koyker Mfg is located in Lennox and manufactures front end loaders and hay handling equipment. Lorenz, a snow blower manufacturer, is headquartered in Benson, Minnesota. They offer three point and skid loader mount snow blowers. Maurer Manufacturing is out of Spencer Iowa and produces their combine head trailers. MDS is out of Parkston and produces a variety of loader and skidloader attachments. Farm King is a line of acreage equipment aimed primarily for the hobby farmer. Ludens also sells Ranch Hand grill guards and front bumpe replacements, that some people refer to as ‘deer killers’. PJ Trailers is out of Paris, Texas and is their main line of trailers and truck beds. According to Landon, “PJ offers a very well built trailer at a competitive price. This manufacturer offers a full line of trailers, from small lawn mower trailers to trailers that will haul construction equipment.”
In 2012, Ludens added the Mahindra tractor line. Mahindra is a company with a long and rich history. In 1945 Mahindra began and in 1947, Mahindra began building the heavy-duty World WarII Willys Jeep. They soon began to manufacture tractors and the company took off in a whirlwind. In1994,Mahindra entered the American market and by 2010, the company had become the number one selling tractor in the world. In 2014, Ludens added the High Country Trailer line, made in Sioux Falls, SD.
High Country Trailers (parent company Alcom LLC) are a special company, not only to the Ludens, but also to the whole state of South Dakota. The High Country trailer line is based out of Sioux Falls, SD. For the many people that are looking for a durable aluminum trailer and who also to support the local economy, the Ludens can help you find what you’re looking for.
“We sell several trailers in the four state region because of the value we provide. We normally stock over 150 new trailers, which is really important. Our inventory is larger than most and is very visible from thE Interstate.” Their two biggest sellers are an ATV rear and side load trailer and a heavy tiltbed trailer primarily used for skid steers. “The trailer market over the past few years has changed,” according to Landon. “It used to be that customers would try to buy one trailer to meet all their needs. Now more customers are buying multiple trailers for more specific purposes. In addition, people seem to have more toys and hobbies that they want a specific trailer for. We also sell enclosed car trailers that clients not only use to transport their vehicle to shows they also use them to store their vehicle and save the storage cost in the off-season.” Ludens services and stocks parts for the corn heads they build and the trailers they sell new. “The 90’s were the busiest time for us to build and rebuild John Deere corn heads. We refurbished older models and built new ones. Back then, we had the largest inventory of those heads in the region and sold over 150 combine heads annually. “
Landon will tell you that the Internet has been a key tool for them.Ludens, Inc had its own website since 1999: www.ludensinc.com. “Listing pictures and prices right on our website has been invaluable to our customers who are primarily located within a 200-300-mile radius of us,” Landon said. “It is a way for our customers to shop for new and used equipment. It has definitely aided in expanding our customer base. We currently sell over 700 new and used trailers annually.”
“In the early years we were strictly a farm equipment business,” says Allen“I don’t hunt or fish or golf. My hobby is auctions. I love to buy and sell equipment. We have customers from as far away as Washington State and Alaska.”
Service is very important to Ludens business. Younger brother, Jason, manages the shop and focuses on providing good service for their trailer and corn head customers. “We service our trailers and corn heads and have been around for over 37 years and we stand behind our products,” says Jason. “The local clients like to have the peace of mind if something goes wrong, they know where to go to get it fixed. Repeat customers like to know that we stand behind our products.” Landon adds, “We have people that want to trade some odd things in occasionally. Being willing to trade in used trailers and equipment has been a good selling tool.”
“We are blessed with a very good team of employees. Everybody that works here, grew up around this part of the state: Lennox, Harrisburg, Parker, Brookings, Corsica and Sioux Falls. We not only see our customers during the week but also on the weekends. We go to church together, our kids go to the same schools, etc. Wherever we cross paths with our customers, it is important to us that we can look our customers in the eyes and know they are satisfied. “
An example of this dedication to customer satisfaction happened a few years ago when a business group from Louisiana was traveling through on their way to Sturgis. “They had a problem with their enclosed trailer that couldn’t be completed in a timely manner and we were able to work out a trailer trade with them and kept them on the road so they could get to Sturgis on time,” says Landon.
Another customer commented, “...It is also great to see some old fashioned business practices are still around. Your company showed very professional and customer care. Thank you once again.”
When it comes to selling trailers, Allen’s philosophy is, “...in today’s market, we use volume to keep our prices competitive.” In addition to a large inventory that allows Ludens to keep their prices lower, organization and cleanliness have contributed to Ludens’ success. Landon says, “I always feel it is important to present ourselves as being organized. From our lot to the sales floor, to the back shop, we strive to keep them clean and organized. Seems like we are always sweeping and cleaning around here. Having to grab the broom frequently is a blessing, because it means business traffic is good.”
In 2001, Allen’s wife and Landon and Jasons’ mother, Sharon, passed away from melanoma skin cancer. That was a tough time emotionally for this family business, as Sharon was a quiet and humble leader in the family. The Ludens were reminded of two things during that time, life is too short and we are not in control.
Most importantly, all three Ludens men will tell you that God has been faithful. “Because of our faith, we feel a responsibility to sell a good product and to stand behind our products with good service. We believe God honors that. He has been our focus, and He has been faithful.”