JA Business Hall of Fame: Don Landoll

Screenshot 2017-03-01 09.31.43By LISA LOEWEN

DRIVE DOWN ANY Kansas highway and you will likely see a Landoll trailer, agricultural implement, forklift, OEM or government product somewhere along the way. Founded by Don Landoll in 1963, the Landoll Corporation employs approximately 800 team members, occupying 900,000 sq. feet of manufacturing space, and ships its products throughout the United States and to 43 countries.

The Marysville-based company has four sales divisions: Tillage, Trailers, Lift Trucks and OEM/Government equipment. Employees drive in from 58 different zip codes, including some in Nebraska.

As the second child of eight, raised on a farm near Hanover, Kansas, Don remembers learning early on the value of hard work.

“I was raised with a do-it-yourself attitude,” Don says. “If I wanted something, I had to go out and get it.”

If his dream had come true after high school, he would have been a member of the Air Force. However, as fate would have it, he failed the physical on a Monday and was back at home Tuesday ready to go to work for Hanover Implement and Manufacturing Co.

There he learned skills of the manufacturing trade until a day that is etched in his brain—Nov. 22, 1963— the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and also the day he became a business owner with the purchase
of Quick Service Welding Company in Marysville.

Don purchased the business along with a partner 30 years his senior. A few years later, his partner offered to sell him sole ownership in the company. Don was 23. With finances short, Don knew he had
to diversify as quickly as possible. Skeptics warned him that the business would never work.

“They didn’t understand the determination I had in my heart,” Don says.

That determination led him to say yes when a local farmer asked him to help design a new chisel plow. And in 1968 the Landoll name graced both a chisel plow and a livestock rack for pick-up trucks.

Once he had a product offering, Don needed a distribution channel. He attended state fairs and farm shows and soon found a distributor that sold products to implement dealers.

While he was seeing success with his farm implement products, Don recognized the limitations of a seasonal industry, so he diversified once again. Seeing the need for a more efficient way to load and haul farm equipment, Don once again went into the design phase, developing what would become the foundation of the Landoll Corporation—a traveling axle ground- loading trailer. With patents in hand, the business was off to the races.

“I always followed the same principle in the business,” Don says. “Generate, recognize and take advantage of your opportunities.”Screenshot 2017-03-01 18.30.04

Landoll Corporation did just that. When the towing and recovery industry needed a more effective trailer design, Landoll provided the answer. When the airline industry needed a way to deice the wings, Landoll designed an innovative product that resulted in the production of nearly 2,000 deicers over 14 years for the United States military. When the US Army needed specialized tank transport trailers to support the troops in Desert Storm, Landoll once again stepped in with the solution.

Landoll Corporation has trailers hauling things all over the world.

“Israeli rockets are mounted on our trailers,” Don says. “We’re also hauling the GPS satellite to the launch pad in Canaveral.”

Adhering to the philosophy of seizing opportunities, growth has also come in the form of acquisition. 

Landoll purchased the Drexel Forklift product line, ICON industries, a manufacturer of construction equipment, and Brillion Farm Equipment.

With product expansion came company growth. Expanding into multiple facilities and adding hundreds of employees, Landoll has become a premiere employer in Northeast Kansas.

With great success comes great responsibility. Don understands that a business is only as good as its employees. As the largest employer in Marysville, Landoll Corporation takes care of its people, providing ongoing training, opportunities for advancement, profit sharing and bonuses.

“My goal is for everyone to be happy,” Don says. “We are big on cross training, which allows for flexibility in job opportunities.”

Even though he has received numerous awards throughout his career, Don remains incredibly humble. He also believes in supporting the community and mentoring young people. He has served on many state and national boards and works with the Junior Achievement program in Marysville to offer instruction in the classroom.

“I believe I have a responsibility to share my knowledge with the next generation,” Don says. “ I always
tell them, whether it is your driver’s license, pilot’s license or diploma, it’s your right to learn.”

Fellow Laureates:

Martha Bartlett Piland

Duane and Beth Fager

Randy Austin

Mike Worswick and DeWitt Harkness

Don Landoll