Welcome to Riechmann Bros. LLC
Riechmann Bros. is a 100-year-old family business and is the oldest continuous John Deere dealership in the State of Illinois
Riechmann Bros. was founded by Hugo and his brother Walter Riechmann on December 23, 1922.
The brothers borrowed $4,000 from a local bank to start the business. The first check stubs, which are framed on the West wall of the Okawville showroom if you come visit us, show that the first check was written to CH Erke who had employed Hugo as a salesman the prior 2 years. The $3,400 check paid for the entire business inventory. The remaining $600 was left to do business as they had no money of their own.
Hugo and Walter made their first sale on day 1 of business as they sold a buggy whip to their brother William.
One of the first checks went to the local wagon maker for a spring wagon bed for $100. The business would frequently trade in buggies, but there was no market for them at the time. Hugo would take the buggy parts off and mount a spring wagon bed on the running gear. Farmers would then use these to haul milk cans and supplies to and from town.
When Riechmann Bros. began, John Deere had a policy that all the parts ordered were shipped on consignment. John Deere would send a crew to count the inventory at the end of the year, and the dealership would then be billed for what had been sold. This practice only lasted the first 2 or 3 years. There were not many parts at this time. They were mainly grain binder parts, there were a few for plows, cultivators, disks and hit and miss engines. The only service calls were for the gas engines.
John Deere reps would all come to Okawville in the early years on the train from St. Louis through Belleville, because the roads and the automobiles were not good enough. Parts would also come by Railway Express until the roads and vehicles were improved in the late 1930's. Hugo would take his own truck at that time and travel to St. Louis to pick up parts and equipment after first unloading livestock in the East St. Louis stockyards.
Riechmann Bros. also had a blacksmith in the 20's and 30's who welded iron and sharpened plow shares in the forge. The only winter work in the early years was on 1 1/2 to 6 hp gas engines to chop feed. Cars were put away on blocks until spring because the roads were too muddy, and people used horses and buggies. Hugo drove a truck around the county to keep busy and would buy old iron and rags that could be sold to earn money to pay the interest in the winter.
Riechmann Bros. bought the automobile business next door in 1928. They never had a car contract but were a sub dealer of the Dodge and Plymouth dealer in the nearby town of Mascoutah. In the late 40's and early 50's as many cars and trucks were sold by the business as farm equipment. The car business was phased out as the automobiles became fancier.
The brothers had both John Deere and Massey Harris contracts when they bought the business. Riechmann Bros. demonstrated a Massey combine in the early 1930's at the Fred Gaebe farm west of Addieville. It was the first one in Washington County. They combined the wheat and took some to the mill where it was ground into flour, and the farmers' wives baked bread for the crowd all in the same day. Deere and Massey both were pushing the brothers to choose one or the other to sell.
Hugo liked the Massey binder better, but he believed the tractor was the future and preferred John Deere in that area. The Massey contract was ended, and Riechmann Bros. was green and yellow from that day forward.
Many horses, mules, and cows were traded in as the business grew. Equipment could not be obtained at the dealership when WWII started, and Riechmann Bros. started handling more cows. If a customer had a certain number of cows to milk, then he could keep a son at home. It was Walter's job to feed the cattle, horses, and mules, and he was assisted by William and Loyd when they grew old enough. They remember the horses going to their stalls and cooperating, but the mules would bite, kick, and were a problem.
Hugo died unexpectedly in 1958 when William was 21 and Loyd was just 15, and the second generation was thrust into the business. Walter continued in the business and took care of the parts and service. William still traded for 4 teams of horses and 1 team of mules after his father Hugo passed.
All of the corn was picked in the area until Riechmann Bros. sold their first corn head in 1958. Several customers wanted to shell corn, but they had no way to store it. Riechmann Bros. obtained a BSB Bin contract and sold grain bins to help increase their corn head sales. Bill and Loyd remember those days being a pain, as the bins were incredibly difficult to deal with. Jacks were used to raise the bins as no electric wrenches were used at that time. FS Grain Elevator's decision to sell grain bins was met with great relief!
John Deere announced a meeting would be held in Dallas in August of 1960 called "D-Day in Dallas". The agenda was kept secret, and no one knew what it was about. John Deere chartered a plane from St. Louis to Dallas. William had never flown before, and he was allowed to go in the cockpit to stand by the pilot and look out the windshield, something unimaginable today! There were 5,000 dealers there from the United States and Canada. The dealers were ushered into the auditorium and were kept from seeing the outside display. It was a big production with singers and dancers. Mr. Lyle Cherry of the Tractor Works presented the program, and he introduced everyone there to the John Deere 4 & 6-cylinder tractors. William had mixed emotions, as he had been giving his customers all of the reasons 2 cylinders were better.
Loyd went to auctioneer school in Mason City, IA following his graduation in 1960. He had his first auction for the Hoepker Estate in October 1960. Riechmann Auction Service held many individual estate and household auctions over the years, but in order to cut costs and increase attendance an absolute consignment auction was started every year in the Okawville Park on the 3rd Saturday in March and the 3rd Saturday in August. The sale has grown exponentially, and the park is full of equipment and over a thousand people from 10 to 12 states and several foreign countries on each occasion. Loyd's son, Michael, and his nephew, Keith, are also auctioneers.
Riechmann Bros. built its third and present building at the south entrance of Okawville in 1979. It continues to undergo improvements, and the previous building just south of the railroad tracks is still used for maintenance on smaller machines such as lawn mowers and compact tractors.
The Breese dealership was acquired in 1988, and the Centralia dealership was acquired in 1998. The Farina location was acquired in 2017. A new Breese dealership building was built in 2021 and was open for business in January of 2022.
The 100-year-old family business sells John Deere farming equipment such as combines, tractors, hay and tillage equipment, and lawn and garden equipment such as riding lawn tractors, zero turn mowers, and utility vehicles.
Members of the third generation in the business working are all of Bill's children: William, Kevin, and Keith Riechmann, and Donna Rabenort; and all of Loyd's children: Mark, Michael, and Matthew Riechmann. The fourth generation is also now working at the dealership. Bill's grandchildren: Kirk, Trey, and Logan Riechmann and Lance Rabenort. Loyd's grandchildren working full time are Zachary and Reed Riechmann.