Larry and Deb Heller, owners of Heller Implement, will soon transition their business to DJ and Larissa Kuker, and the new business will be called “Rockin K Solutions.”
When prompted about how long Larry Heller has been in the auto mechanic industry, he gets misty-eyed and talks fondly of being a young boy riding his bike to his dad’s shop.
“I would ride down with my dad to open in the morning, ride my bike to school and then after school, get back on my bike and come back down,” Larry shared.
Larry, who owns Heller Implement Inc., with his wife, Deb, has worked at the business his entire life. Larry’s parents, Lawrence and Bonnie Heller, purchased the business in 1948, at a time when there were six other farm equipment dealers in Dunlap, originally selling Ferguson tractors and cars. Through the years, they invested in different ventures, selling Oliver Farm Equipment, doing repair work, selling gas, and operating a car wash. In time, Lawrence purchased a tank wagon from Andy Datteral, and began delivering heating oil, farm fuel, and gas.
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In 1971, Lawrence ventured away from the farm equipment business and focused solely on repair work and his tank wagon business.
In November of 1987, Hellers incorporated their business, at which time Larry became a part owner and made the decision to reinvest in farm equipment sales.
In 1988, the building was lifted off its foundation when a tornado came through town. The old building was replaced with a new one and the addition of new offices, a larger repair shop and new fuel pumps have been added through the years since.
“We sold several brands of farm machinery,” Larry shared. “It all began with White Farm Equipment and White Planters. Soon after, we took on the Sunflower Manufacturing line.”
After expanding their workspace, the Hellers sold many equipment lines that had been acquired under the AGCO corporation. They also sold Kubota tractors and lawn mowers, as well as Brandt and Unverferth Manufacturing equipment.
After almost 30 years of selling farm machinery, Heller Implement has most recently operated as a gas station and repair shop.
“We also continue to run the tank wagon business to service customers on the farm,” Larry said.
Upon making the decision to retire, the Hellers are excited that the business will be transitioned to a local couple and that the doors will stay open.
“We wanted the right people to keep it going for the town and surrounding area, which will keep small towns alive,” Larry explained.
DJ Kuker started farming and custom spraying after graduating from high school in Denison. He farmed and ran a custom spraying business for 10 years before taking a position as a field service tech with Hagie Manufacturing. DJ worked four years for Hagie. Then John Deere acquired Hagie and DJ continued as a field service tech with John Deere for two more years. He then worked as a service manager until he started his own business in 2022.
DJ’s wife, Larissa, grew up in Dunlap on a farm. She attended Iowa State University and worked as a grain accountant/buyer for five years, before taking a break to spend time with the kids. Larissa has worked for United Bank of Iowa for the last seven years.
Kukers live in Dunlap with their two children: Anton (Tony), 15; and Theodrick (Ted) 14.
Kukers plan to offer many of the services that the locals have come to appreciate from Heller Implement, as well as add to the list of offerings.
“We will be offering the same services except bulk fuel delivery,” shared Larissa. “We will add ag sprayer servicing, hydraulics and gps/automation. We will be a Yield 360 center offering all of the 360 product lines. We are also a Rubber Track dealer.”
Dunlap is a “quiet yet active community with good people,” Larissa said.
Kukers look forward to being able to serve the local community and staying closer to home. The business transition will begin on June 1.