The Stoller family came to the United States from Switzerland in the 1860’s and settled on a farm near Metamora. Within a few years the family moved farther west to Davis County, Iowa on the Missouri border. In 1891 the entire family returned to Gridley, IL and continued farming. Four of the original children migrated to western Ohio in 1913. Chris Stoller stayed in Gridley and fathered eleven children. His five boys showed an early interest in machinery by operating a corn Sheller business and inventing a snowplow that was pulled by horses. The oldest son, William took a job selling farm machinery at age 16. Two years later he would die of Diabetes. Insulin was not available.
During the Great Depression, the second and third sons, Albert and Reuben entered the grocery business and the fourth son, Clarence, operated a bulk fuel business delivering gasoline and kerosene in five gallon cans to farmers. It was during these on farm visits that Clarence began to observe the trend away from horses. Tractor power for row crop work was gaining in popularity. Consequently in 1934 he answered an ad in the Prairie farmer from the Allis Chalmers Company and became an agent selling tractors while on his fuel route. He sold 12 tractors that first year and traded in horses on some of those transactions. He rented an office on Third Street in Gridley for $5 per month and kept the trade-in horses in a corral across the street.
n 1935, Reuben and Clarence Stoller purchased the I.H. Dealership in Gridley, IL operated by the Peter Klopfenstein family. The store was located on Center Street in Gridley where the current U.S. Post Office exists. Eventually they would relocate to a site on U.S. Route 24, previously occupied by a stallion farm. In 1939, Clarence built a second store in Chenoa, IL. When Clarence was drafted in to the U.S. Army in 1942, Albert took over operations of that location and retired from there in 1963. Reuben oversaw the Gridley store until 1970 when that building was destroyed by fire.
Upon returning from World War II in December of 1945, Clarence bought a herd of 30 Brown Swiss cows and started up his own dairy on the home place 2 miles north of Gridley. Several years later, representatives from International Harvester encouraged Clarence to reenter the agricultural machinery business in 1948. At that time, he bought out the Sinew Family dealership in Pontiac, IL, the site of the old Bess Husseman Farm. Construction on a new building began in 1949. That same building has since been added to six different times, but the original building still exists, continuing to serve customers throughout generations of farmers.
When Stoller International first opened, the products offered were the F-20 and F-30 tractors, two-row planters, threshing machines, oat seeders, barge wagons, flare wagons and sickle mowers. Since then Stoller IH has witnessed the technology advancements in agricultural equipment that have resulted in available horsepower tractors increasing from 30hp to 600hp. The advancements have also produced precision planting equipment from 1 row to 36 rows, and harvesting equipment that advanced from single-row horse drawn machines to satellite guided self-propelled combines with 40 foot draper platforms and 16 row corn-heads.
The dealership that Clarence built in Pontiac, IL is the only one of the original Stoller family dealerships that currently exists. Clarence passed away in 1976 and at that time his oldest son Clark assumed the leadership role of Stoller International. Later, in 1980’s his younger son, Lynn, joined as a leader in the company as well. The two have remained in leadership to this day and have expanded their area of coverage from approximately 50 square miles to 5,000 square miles and have increased their workforce from 5 employees to 90. The third generation of Stoller’s continues to stay active in the dealership as well. History details of this expansion include the purchase of the Herscher store in 1993, the purchase of Minonk and Streator stores in 1999 and the building of a new facility in Ottawa during 2005.
As the business grew the Stoller’s noticed an increase in the number of customers from Kankakee, Will, and Iroquois counties. This let to negotiations and the purchase of the Case IH dealership in Herscher in 1993. This acquisition expanded the Stoller customer base to the Indiana state line and beyond.
Six years later the phone rang in the office at Pontiac. The caller was the owner of the Case IH stores in Streator and Minonk, and he wanted to sell his business. That transaction led to the reopening of those two locations under the Stoller name on September 1st, 1999. The customer base for the Streator and
Minonk dealerships included many farmers in LaSalle county who lived north of the Illinois River. This fact led to the purchase of land in the Ottawa area. Ground for a new store was broken in 2005.
Another area of expansion for Stoller’s has been guidance. The technology department has 5 full-time people devoted to running and servicing the Case IH guidance products for the eleven counties covered by the Stoller RTK network towers. As new technology evolves this team is on the cutting edge to apply and implement it into our customers farming systems.