Tull’s farm equipment sales bought by Pennsylvania firm

By Lynn R. Parks

Gift and garden center will move out by March

After 64 years, the Tull family, Seaford, has gotten out of the tractor business. Hoober Inc., based in Intercourse, Pa., has bought the farm and lawn and garden equipment portion of Tull’s and has set up shop in the store on Stein Highway just west of town. The garden center and gift shop, owned by Gary and Karen Tull Johnston and still called Tull’s, will relocate by March. According to Mike Null, manager of the Seaford Hoober Inc., his store will eventually take over the entire building. “We expect to double, triple, ever quadruple the size of the business in a short amount of time,” Null said. He said that Hoober’s, as the business is popularly known, kept most of Tull’s employees. “We started out with 12 employees and are already up to 16,” he said. “Our store in Middletown has 70 employees. We believe that this store can be that size.” Hoober’s was started in Intercourse in 1941 by C.B. Hoober. His son, Charles Jr., is now president of the company. In addition to its store in Intercourse, the company also has a store in Middletown; it bought White Bros. in 1982 and in 1993 built a new facility south of town. It also has a store in McAlisterville, Pa., opened in 1997. “Seaford is a perfect location for us,” Null said. “It gives us wonderful access to the middle of the Eastern Shore. With a store that is just off US 13 and on Route 20, we have good access to Maryland and Delaware, north and south.” Hoober’s will sell Case-International equipment, just as Tull’s has done since 1938. It will also sell Cub Cadet lawn and garden equipment. “Our focus is on customer service,” Null said. “We are focused on trying to provide the most current equipment and understanding the most current practices.” Hoober’s is renovating the parts department. It will soon install new computer equipment, to tie it to the other Hoober stores. Earl B. Tull, son of one of the founders of Tull’s, said that the sale of the dealership is “a sign of the times.” He added, “In the farm equipment business, you have to get bigger or you die. Hoober’s has a lot of experience and has trained mechanics that can handle the complex farm equipment.” “You can’t be a one-location dealership,” added his son-in-law, Gary Johnston. “Business is tough and the rules have changed. This is the next evolution in business.” Tulls has its roots in a family farm between Woodland and Reliance. Luther Benjamin Tull moved his family, including two sons, Earle M. and Robert C., closer to Seaford around 1912. The two brothers formed a farming partnership in 1920 and when their father died in 1922, bought his farm, at the corner of Delaware 20 and Atlanta Road. “His sons saw a need for farmers to have a place to get their grain ground into feed,” said Earl Tull, Earle M.’s son. “They started a feed mill in the late 1920s and in 1933, built a mill at the farm.” In 1938, Burton Bros. in downtown Seaford sold its International-Harvester dealership to the Tull brothers. “They started selling tractors in a shed on the farm,” Earl Tull said. In 1949, the brothers built a store, Tull Bros., on Delaware 20, at the south edge of their farm. In the 1960s, the store expanded to carry hardware, gifts and garden items. It eliminated hardware from its inventory in several years ago, focusing more on its gifts and garden departments. Tull said he is pleased that the gift and garden store will continue, and that it will carry the Tull name. “The Tull name will continue on,” he said. “We will continue to be prosperous and to serve the community.”

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