By Bob Miller, NTEA Director of Outreach
This article was published in the February 2017 edition of NTEA News.
Shirk’s International (Greensburg, Indiana) has been an NTEA member since 1995, but has been in business much longer.
In the 1940s, Charles Shirk left home to join the military, training as a top turret gunner and aerial engineer on the B-17 bomber. As it turned out, Berlin fell before he could view the European landscape from 30,000 feet. He returned to start training for the B-29 when President Truman dropped the atom bomb, so he said he went fishing instead. Armed with his discharge papers, Shirk came home in 1946. Five years later, he became a silent partner with Glenn Weston, selling Minneapolis-Moline farm machinery and DeLaval dairy equipment in Greensburg.
Charles Shirk, owner of Shirk’s International
In 1962, Charles Shirk bought Glenn Weston’s interest in the business and formed Shirk’s Tree City Supply Inc. which became an IHC dealer and carried farm equipment and trucks. As Indiana’s agriculture market evolved and consolidated, Shirk let go of the farm implement business at the end of 1986 to become an International dealership focused on truck sales and service. The following year, the business became Shirk’s International.
In 1992, Charles’s former son-in-law Steve Freeman left the world of banking and finance to join the company. As president, he works to stay on top of an ever-changing business climate.
Shirk’s International purchased Hull’s Truck and Trailer in 1997, enabling it to offer more equipment and services. The additional employees and skillsets allowed for expanded service hours and a second shift.
Along with complete truck service and repair, Shirk’s has a line of equipment to complement its chassis business, including dump, farm and ranch, grain, stake and platform, landscape, utility and service, and dry freight van bodies. On the trailer side, the company offers ag and machinery, flatbed/platform, grain and side dump trailers. It also sells and services hoists, hydraulic equipment, tarps, toolboxes and parts. There is a full sales, service and parts facility.
Though Shirk’s has expanded significantly from the original structure built in 1951 (it now covers more than five acres), growth has been slow and steady following its conservative business model. The company has been able to expand and adapt without leveraging the firm.
As for the future, the business will remain lean and nimble, according to Freeman. The market for big trucks and equipment is challenging, and government-imposed emissions standards on diesel engines have driven up new truck pricing. In addition, it is no longer as easy to find qualified employees.
Shirk’s leadership has been monitoring change for a long time, making adjustments as they go. No actions are taken without thorough contemplation, which has enabled the company to make continual forward progress.
For more information, visit shirksinternational.com, call 812-663-7111 or stop by 1026 N. Lincoln St in Greensburg.