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Young Entrepreneur Grows Parts & Equipment Business
As a kid growing up on a small Iowa farm, Ethan Zobel says he always enjoyed building things and tinkering with machinery. In 2013 he started building hayracks and repairing running gears for area farmers, even though he was just 13 years old. “That went really well for a couple years, so I started buying old tractors to repair, refurbish and re-sell for extra spending money,” Zobel says. “Within a year I had more than 2 dozen parts tractors and I realized there was quite a bit more potential in parts than in tractor repair.”
Just 4 years later Zobel is a hyper-busy 20-year-old, running EZ Equipment Sales with a huge stock of tractor parts, several hundred salvage tractors, with 4 or 5 more coming in every week, and enough work to keep 4 full time and several part time employees busy.
Zobel says his focus initially was on Farmall H, M, MTA and CIH tractors and parts because that’s what he grew up with. In the past year he’s expanded by adding more Deere, CIH and New Holland tractors. “There’s not a huge need for heavy parts like rear axles and bull gears, but we have more than 600 rare and many less common parts that are in much higher demand. A good example is an M&W cast aluminum oil pan for several CIH models including 806, 1206, 856, 1256 and 1456. We also have stoker crankshafts and are now re-manufacturing parts that are in high demand,” Zobel says.
One of his recent projects is producing and selling a pto compression tool which he has made by an Iowa manufacturer. “It’s a simple $100 tool that makes it easier for a mechanic to rebuild a pto without using a bulky press, and it’s not available from CIH,” Zobel says.    
EZ Equipment has refurbished used tractors for sale and the parts lineup includes cleaned and rebuilt carburetors that are set to factory specifications. His price is $150 with a core or $250 without. The shop rebuilds IH hydraulic parts such as clutch assists, hydraulic valves, coupler boxes, MCVs and more. Pricing varies so Zobel reccomends calling for information and inquiries about re-built Farmall and IH engines.
After graduating high school in 2018, Zobel attended college for one semester. “It was a great experience, but I couldn’t run the business and go to school at the same time. I decided the business was more important, and I don’t regret it.” A frequent customer says the fact Zobel doesn’t have mechanical training or a business degree doesn’t bother him a bit.
“My brain absorbs knowledge like a sponge when I visit with customers, friends, neighbors and family members,” Zobel says. “Those people along with industry people I’ve met and know have a lot of experience and knowledge and I’m picking up on that as fast as I can.”
Zobel’s says his business has grown because “I’m committed to finding, stocking and supplying rare tractor parts that other salvage yards haven’t seen or don’t deal with on a regular basis. We buy salvage tractors from all over the continental US and even a few from Canada, with some traveling more than 1,000 miles to get here,” Zobel says.
The business reputation has also spread because of an excellent website that draws inquiries from across the country. “It’s a never ending job to add parts, prices, pictures and descriptions, but that’s really helping us grow,” he adds.
As if he doesn’t have enough to do already, Zobel continues to expand. Recently he and his father bought a crop insurance agency that ties nicely into his equipment business because the majority of customers at both businesses are farmers. “I’ve got a passion for agriculture, business, numbers and my local community and I have no intention of slowing down,” he adds.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ethan Zobel, EZ Equipment Sales, 3077 German Ave., Battle Creek, Iowa 51006 (ph (712)-371-9643; www.ez-equip.com).

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2020 - Volume #44, Issue #4