On a recent stop at WCT Farm & Lawn, owner Scheryl Larimore was spotted standing patiently in a cold drizzle while a farmer turned loop-de-loos in a lovely blue tractor, his smile as broad as a row of rye.
She needed to close on a sale, and she wasn’t free for an interview that day, but she allowed me to snap a photo or two, and we agreed to talk later on the phone.
Such is the life of a business owner. That phone interview was punctuated by people asking Larimore questions and the sounds of phones in the background. It had already been a long day for her, and after the phone call, she had a stack of papers she needed to address — this after a day of overlapping closings and lots of interested lookers.
Scheryl owns WCT with her husband Greg Larimore, and they spend their days together, selling tractors and other farm and lawn supplies. She has gotten to know a lot about the business in the six years she’s been working full time.
"I do about anything but work on them," she said. "I can do that a little, but not much."
Larimore is drawn to the job because she enjoys people. "To be in a job where I didn’t see people would be hard," she said. "You help them get something that they’re looking for and needing. It’s rewarding that way."
She gets a lot out of the interactions she has with customers, although she got her start in the office. Her tractor education has been extensive. “It’s just selling,” she said. “If you were a car salesman, you’d learn about cars. I learned about tractors.”
Although it seems like an unusual path, Larimore came to her job from the field of dentistry, and she was in that field for 25 years, as a dental assistant, an oral surgery assistant and ultimately as a manager of two offices.
Her goal at WCT was to grow the business, and she has done so in a big way. At a recent farm expo, WCT broke all of its sales goals, and the company just completed a record-breaking month — its best ever.
Larimore grew up on a farm herself, and her grandfather had a Grade-A dairy farm, so she came equipped with a certain amount of knowledge from that background. A lot of the technical details she picked up along the way.
“You can learn anything you put your mind to,” she said. “I learn best just by listening. I might not go back there and turn a wrench, but I can tell you how it works.”
Larimore was raised by a professional mom — Helen Coltrane, known to many locals from her time at Citizens State Bank, later Metropolitan Bank, among other names. Coltrane was the first woman bank president in the state of Missouri, according to Larimore, but at home, she farmed.
“I grew up with a mother who worked, had a professional job, but then she came home and we worked the garden and we canned and we run cattle,” she said. “That was just the life. I didn’t think anything about it.”
From her mother, Larimore learned creative ways to help people to reach their goals. She works closely with local banks to help people get the equipment they need. Sometimes she works with a customer on ways to achieve their goals, and then they come back within six months or a year to complete the sale.
She acknowledges that the tractor business was a little harder in the beginning, but now her husband often directs people directly to her. “Greg will sometimes say, ‘You’ve got to talk to her. She understands this stuff.’”
Larimore also notes that in many ways her business is a man’s world. “You have to just start talking with them. I’ve never been backwards in doing things, so it doesn’t bother me to talk,” she said. “You kind of have to get them to recognize you know a little bit.”
And Larimore clearly knows more than a little.
From her childhood on the farm to her years spent building customer service skills and business acumen, Larimore says it has been an unusual journey.
"Sometimes I look back and think, "How did I get here?'" she laughs.