A Lifetime of Service to Area Farmers
Drew Williamson has had a long and varied career. He left school at 17 to go back to the farm, intended to go west with the harvest excursion in 1947, but instead accepted employment at International Harvester (IH) in Hamilton.
A year later he left there to work as a salesman at the GM garage in Jarvis. This ended when he was approached by Charles James Munro, an executive at IH, who approached him about taking over the Jarvis IH dealership, left vacant by the death of Bob McCarter.
After some consideration, Drew embraced the opportunity, in partnership with his brother-in-law Jim Doughty, to bring to birth Doughty and Williamson (D&W), a company that has maintained its presence in the Jarvis area for over 70 years. Neither of the men had much training to help them with this venture. Building started in 1950 on the Williamson home farm, where it exists today.
The early years saw a lot of diversity in their business. Within the span of three years they recognized a need for a truck, solved by the purchase of a truck and milk can route in 1953.
Over the next few years they were involved in growing and exporting hay to the US, custom combining of rye and wheat, contract growing and harvesting peas for Culverhouse Canning as well as running the dealership. Drew felt lucky that they were close enough to have the job of providing field testing for new IH equipment manufactured in Hamilton. In 1961 Drew and Jim formalized a partnership agreement.
A major disaster struck in 1963 with the total loss of their building to fire. This devastating occurrence could have spelled the end, except that about fifteen area farmers and friends showed up to help with the cleanup, giving them the impetus to rebuild and continue. This decade also saw rental contracts of tractors and equipment to York Farms, and the incorporation of Doughty and Williamson in 1969.
Doughty and Williamson Niagara opened in 1978, a leasing division was opened, and a contract was made with Texaco Canada for fieldwork. The 80’s saw many changes … D&W, along with six other dealers, was instrumental in the formation, in 1983, of Farm-Fleet. D&W purchased assets of a hay packaging equipment company from England and set up a hay packaging plant in Jarvis in 1984, exporting pre-packaged hay to the US. This business was sold in 1990.
In 1985 they purchased assets of Norfolk Co-op on Stanley Street in Simcoe, and relocated to a new building on Hwy 3, Norfolk Tractor, opening this location in 1989. During the same year International Harvester was acquired by Case, becoming Case International.
In the 90’s they purchased Borghoff Motors in Scotland, and established Brant Tractor, later moving its location to Burford. Another setback by fire occurred in 1996, with the loss of the rear shop at Jarvis, which was rebuilt the next year.
In 2001 the Kubota dealership of Cadman Farm Equipment was purchased and moved to Brant Tractor. The year 2006 saw the company name change to D&W Group Inc.
The Jarvis location was renovated in 2017 to add a centralized accounting office, and in 2021 D&W Group renovated Norfolk Tractor to become a Kubota One location.
At 93 Drew still spends a couple of hours most days in his office. He has seen a lot of changes during his time in business. The company now includes the fourth generation – dealing with the fourth generation of farmers. He commented that when he started the biggest tractor was 40 hp, now 680 hp is available. Service has changed – in the early 50’s the company would send their servicemen in a suit and tie – that doesn’t happen now. He noted that farmers are no longer able to accomplish repairs on their own – they must go through the dealership. He sees farms as more business oriented than in previous years. The biggest change he noted was the way companies are working – they want multiple dealerships under one business umbrella, a move that has effectively taken out most family operations.
Nephew Dave Doughty added, “It’s business on top of business.”
On a sad note, news was received that Drew passed away on Monday, May 1.