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Private equity-backed Groff Tractor has bought out Plasterer Equipment, a Lebanon-based John Deere Construction and Forestry dealer.

The acquisition was announced in a press release on Feb. 3. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In 2016, Texas firm Prophet Equity II LP bought controlling interest of Mechanicsburg-based Groff Tractor.

Plasterer Equipment’s four locations in Lebanon, Bethlehem, Sellersville, and Lewisberry will be rebranded as Groff Tractor & Equipment dealerships.

The Lebanon location is located in South Lebanon Township at 2550 E. Cumberland St.

According to the company’s official history, Plasterer Equipment began in Lebanon back in 1912 when brothers Isaac and Jacob Plasterer began selling REO trucks and Waterloo tractors. When Deere & Co. purchased the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Co. and its innovative tractor works in 1918, Plasterer soon after became a full Deere dealer.

The business grew significantly in the 1940s and beyond when it transitioned to second-generation ownership by Elmer Plasterer, whose name became a key part of the brand, with a former motto of “Here Comes Elmer” even serving double duty as the title for a short-lived daily WLBR segment sponsored by the company.

1949 ad in the Lebanon Daily News for Plasterer Equipment.

Plasterer Equipment was later sold to Leon Houser, who had built up the firm’s construction division following John Deere’s entrance into that market in 1956. The company had remained in the Houser family since then, and continued to see significant growth into the 2000s and beyond.

“With the unprecedented growth came many new employees but the family culture has remained unchanged,” reads the company’s history.

Leon Houser, pictured in a 1990 edition of the Lebanon Daily News, as part of a feature on him being named the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Small Businessman of the Year. “We’re one of those companies that people don’t really know about because 95 percent of our business done outside the county,” Houser was quoted as saying in the article.

Groff Tractor & Equipment has signaled that it will keep existing staff and uphold the same quality of service that customers have come to expect from Plasterer.

“We plan to operate the newly acquired John Deere business out of the current Plasterer locations and will provide parts, service, sales, and rental through these facilities just like Plasterer has done for the last 110 years,” said Mike Savastio, president and CEO of Groff Tractor & Equipment.

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