FREETOWN

In the fall of 2012, five years after opening White River Machine and Repair near Freetown, Dan Leffler decided to start selling Country Clipper zero-turn mowers.

That wound up being a good move.

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In 2013, 2014 and 2015, he earned the Key Dealer Award. Then recently, he received the Outstanding Dealer Award for the first time. Both awards are based on sales volume from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31.

Nearly 100 dealers in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan recently gathered in Richmond for an annual meeting, and Leffler said only about 25 of them were recognized.

“We would have never dreamed that they would have done that good for us, especially right off the bat,” Leffler said of selling the Country Clipper brand.

The highest honor a Country Clipper dealer can receive is the Elite Dealer Award. This year, three dealers in the Conniff Sales Inc. distribution area received that honor.

When Leffler and his wife, Barb, began selling Country Clipper mowers, they were a preferred dealer. They soon worked their way up to platinum dealer.

“They compensate their dealers with the higher volumes to try to make you strive to sell more machines,” Leffler said.

Leffler spent more than 22 years as a machinist for area companies until losing his job when the economy took a hit in the mid-2000s.

He had done some small engine work on the side for several years, so he decided to turn that into a business in 2007.

“I was having a hard time finding a job at the time because of the economy and the slump,” he said. “I did small engine work on the side, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll try to see if I can make a business out of it.’ Every year, it just keeps growing and growing.”

At first, Leffler serviced and repaired all makes and models of mowers and also did some machining.

He researched the Country Clipper brand for three years until deciding to sell them at his shop at 2627 N. State Road 135.

“It just so happened the sales rep came around and finally talked me into jumping on board with them, and I’m glad I did,” he said. “It’s a good product. I would put it up against any major brand on the market.”

Leffler said the biggest selling point of Country Clipper mowers is the joystick steering, which allows the operator to “point and go.” Twin lever steering also is available on select models.

Another unique feature of Country Clipper mowers is the stand-up deck feature, which was introduced more than 15 years ago. The deck can be lifted at about a 90-degree angle without any tools. That allows for easy access to the underside of the deck for cleaning and routine maintenance.

The commercial and select residential models also feature a pivoting front axle. The axle pivots on heavy-duty roller bearings, giving it complete terrain contouring ability. The deck floats independently of the frame to virtually eliminate gouging and scalping while mowing.

Also, the fuel tank is strategically placed under the seat to provide a low center of gravity for optimum performance on slopes. All of the mowers are engineered for weight distribution so the operator can remain confident that all four wheels remain in contact with the turf.

Country Clipper is a dealer-based company, so you won’t find the brand in big-box stores. Leffler said the company tries to spread out its dealers so they aren’t located too close to each other.

Leffler said he likes how Country Clipper provides good service to its dealers and customers.

“They step back and take care of their customers. If they don’t take care of their customers, they are not going to continue to sell their product,” he said.

“Dealing with Country Clipper, it’s like dealing with family,” he said. “They are a good bunch of people to work with. If I’ve got a comment or question or concern, I can call Country Clipper and talk to anyone. They are a good, loyal company, and they stand behind their product.”

Leffler has been able to develop a solid customer base. He has set up displays at the Jackson County Fair in Brownstown and the Lawn, Garden and Patio Show in Seymour in recent years.

Word of mouth has been his best form of advertisement, he said.

“That’s one thing I strive on, I strive to take care of my customers,” he said. “I work hours of a night or whatever to get the customer back up and going if needed. I try to take care of people like if it was my own mower. I take pride in what I do.”

At a glance

White River Machine and Repair is at 2627 N. State Road 135, Freetown.

The small engine repair and machine shop, operated by Dan and Barb Leffler, sells Country Clipper zero-turn mowers and services all brands.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

For information, call 812-358-2225 or 812-525-7166 or search for “Country Clipper and White River Machine and Repair” on Facebook.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.