SYCAMORE – A Hinckley-based farm is looking to expand its services to provide county farmers with specialized equipment not readily available at locations such as the John Deere and R-Equipment locations in northern DeKalb County.
Donald Willrett, of Willrett Farms, presented his case to expand his farm operation into a county designated “agribusiness” Thursday during a public hearing at the DeKalb County Administration Building.
Willrett Farms, which has been in business since 1938, has primarily focused on the production of corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and raising of cattle, but has gradually evolved to add a “sophisticated” Pioneer Seed dealership and some equipment work.
The farm recently added a trailer franchise for the sales of agricultural detach and step-deck trailers and is hoping to sell new and used farm equipment under the county’s designation of agribusiness.
Gary Lothson, who provided legal representation during the hearing, said the expansion would cater to an underserved niche market.
“It’s a continuation of what I’m doing, in all honesty,” Willrett said. “These two enterprises fit in with our business activity and what we do as farmers.”
Willrett had plenty of support from the public Thursday, including other farmers, Hinckley officials and state politicians.
State Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, is a neighbor to the north of Willrett’s farm at 7353 Somonauk Road. Pritchard said the business expansion would provide a needed service to local farmers and bolster tax revenue for the county and state.
“A lot of the farm equipment dealerships don’t deal in the type of equipment that is being proposed here,” Pritchard said. “The Willrett family has been a very reputable family in the community for many generations.”
Dale Johnson, a local farmer and seed customer of Willrett’s, said allowing the sale of agricultural trailers and new and used equipment would be a wise move.
“Don has done a real quality job of providing seed for us,” he said. “I think it would be good for both the county ... and farmers in the area.”
The proposed hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Willrett could hire an additional part-time employee, although there are no plans for job creation in the proposal.
The DeKalb County Planning and Zoning Committee will consider the proposal at its Nov. 28 meeting before the DeKalb County Board votes on the proposal at its Dec. 19 meeting.