FALCONER - A 27-year career in John Deere equipment sales will come to a close this summer for lifetime Chautauqua County resident John Griffith, who retires as co-owner, aftermarket manager and Z&M Ag and Turf's Clymer location's store manager. Griffith's decision to retire was a personal goal set years ago after losing his father, Alvin 'Ben' Griffith unexpectedly when he was only 71. He and his wife of 35 years, Mary Jane, decided then that they would work hard to earn the ability to retire at 55 as Ben did and enjoy the life they'd worked for with their family. The Griffiths have three children: Brad (Holly), Chris (Amit) and Beth, and have one grandson, Liam.
Griffith started his career with the company in 1986 at the Zahm & Matson location in Falconer. After then owner Harry Uhl purchased the North Collins location Griffith commuted there and took over as store manager. In 1994 the Falconer store manager, Tracy Buck, and Griffith expressed to Uhl their interest in purchasing the company and shortly after became partners and co-owners of Zahm & Matson Inc. In 1997 the duo purchased Gallup & TenHaken in Clymer and Edinboro and in 2001 purchased two more John Deere locations, Goodridge Farms Supply in Oakfield and Alexander. It was then that they took on minority owner Tom Kelsey, as a partner. Finally, in 2003 they opened a site in Springville. In 2008 all seven stores were combined under one name; Z&M Ag and Turf. Of the merger Griffith said, "They chose the name by shortening up Zahm & Matson, getting back to their roots where it all had started."
In his career, growth and change have been the two components Griffith remembers most. When he and Buck bought the company in '92 they employed 18 people. The now seven-store dealership operates with 147 full-time and 21 part-time and seasonal employees. As the ag industry grew Griffith reflects on the evolutions from books and microfish film and technician manuals to laptops and satellite remote diagnostic equipment. Throughout the changes and expansions Griffith remains proud of the accomplishments of Z&M and fondly remembers the many farms he's been on. "I've build relationships with grandfathers, fathers and sons. I've seen children grow up to be farmers. I'm proud of that. And I'm proud that even with all the growth we've seen as a company Z&M has always remained good stewards of the community".
Community service will remain close to Griffiths' heart after retirement as well. In 2012 he was appointed the fourth battalion coordinator of the Chautauqua County Emergency Services. He is a lifetime member and past chief of the Ellington Fire Department, sits on the board of directors of WCA Services Corporation and is a member of Ross Grange and several other clubs and organizations. In addition to his extensive involvement in the community, Griffith and his wife Mary Jane hope to travel and spend as much time with their growing family as possible.
The future of Z&M Ag and Turf will continue to remain true to its roots with Tracy Buck becoming the majority owner.
"I have very much enjoyed my partnership with John," Buck said. "He has brought great things to the company, but we are excited for John and Mary Jane to be fulfilling their dream of retirement. While John will be greatly missed as part of Z&M we are excited to welcome two new members of the Z&M team and look forward to continuing to serve our customers."
In Clymer, Andrew Campell, will take over as store manager. Campell is a graduate of Clymer Central School. While in school he was the county FFA president and state vice president. He graduated from the Missouri Auction School and has owned and operated M&C Auctions since 1999. Campell spent 12 years with Schwans and worked his way up from a route driver to a district manager. He and his wife, of nine years, have three children and continue to live in Clymer.
On a corporate level, Tim Black was hired in December to take over as Z&M's aftermarket manager. He was the former owner of Regal Lumber Co. in Falconer, Dunkirk and Warren. Tim joins Z&M with 25 years sales and leadership experience. He is the current treasurer of WCA Hospital in Jamestown, past president of Falconer Rotary and a member of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. Black lives in Falconer with his wife Michelle and two children.