In 1969, just a short 50 years ago a young man named Galen “Gabe” Gabriel became a 50/50 partner/owner with Ralph Sydenstricker in the International Harvester dealership in Macon, Missouri. Ralph had purchased the IH dealership in 1965 from Kenneth DeSpain. Prior to Gabe becoming an owner he was working at the International Harvester Company Office in Kansas City for about three years and then became a Blockman which is a traveling salesman. Gabe was a Blockman for twelve years and took care of dealerships in both Kansas and Missouri. At one-point fellow employees called him “Cyrus”.
The Macon dealership was housed in an IH Prototype building on the south edge of Macon. The building today is occupied by Harland Rental. The pylon on the front of the building was brick and had to be removed because of disrepair.
Starting a new dealership up was certainly tough at times while trying to build inventory on a limited amount of capital. Gabe was not only the owner of the IH dealership, he wore many hats as the Manager, Part’s Man, and the Truck Driver. Trying to keep the budget down one could only hire so many people. At 5:00 when the store front would close wife Sandy and son Greg would ride in the delivery truck with Gabe so Greg would get to see his Dad.
Around 1994 Gabe and Ralph expanded their business into the Kirksville area. Gabe’s son Greg became Manager of that dealership for about five years. In 2001 Gabe and Greg had to decide to go one way or the other, either with “RED” or “Green” and they decided they would go with the company that was going to survive which was John Deere. Yes, Gabe is a John Deere owner but, in his heart, he is a RED MAN. According to Gabe, “If there were still International Harvester dealers today, I would be one.”
Gabe has been married to his lifelong partner Sandy for fifty-three years. When talking to Gabe and Sandy one can tell that Sandy’s heart is red too. Sandy enjoys collecting the memorabilia and toy collection of International Harvester. Gabe and Sandy have earned and enjoyed many trips through their IH sales including trips to Hawaii, Paris and a Jamaican cruise. Gabe also attended an IH trip to Canada. When the dealers would gather, they were a large group. During their travels at times the whole airplane may be full of only IH dealers.
The first sale that Gabe made was an 856 International Harvester tractor along with the full line of equipment. At that time the full line was five pieces including the planter, cultivator, disk, plow, and a mower. The tractor and the equipment were purchased by the Borron Turkey Farm in Winnigen, Mo.
Gabe’s most favorite tractor is his 1206 which is the first one he collected and kept. He has had fun demonstrating it because it has a lot of power and it would put on a good show. Another nice piece Gabe still has is his International truck that he bought new in 1975, which was the last year that International made light duty trucks. Trucks came in three colors red, black, and green. Gabe’s is a red three-quarter ton flat bed.
Gabe and Sandy have two son’s Greg who was mentioned earlier. Greg has always had an interest in International Harvester also, his toy IH riding tractor that he has had since he was thirteen months old sits high on a shelf in the John Deere dealership. Another son Kevin lives in Kansas City. Greg has two sons, Grant and Trent, that Gabe and Sandy adore. Grant has worked the last two summers at the Macon dealership so no doubt that the farm equipment dealership is going to be passed down to future generations. Having your legacy live on through children and grandchildren is one of the biggest blessings that anyone could ask for and Gabe and Sandy Gabriel have certainly accomplished that. I enjoyed meeting and visiting with Gabe, Sandy, and Greg, just super nice people. ~ Libby Youse