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Planning makes farm shop user-friendly

LONG OVERDUE: Don Lehe and his brothers made do with a tiny farm shop for many years. Their new shop expands what they can accomplish.
Attention to details before and during construction produced a shop with farmer-friendly features for Don Lehe and his brothers.

The Lehe brothers, Brookston, had several goals in mind when they decided to build a new farm shop in 2012. Perhaps none was a higher priority than providing ample space to work on equipment. They envisioned a shop where they could bring in more than one large piece of machinery at a time, unfold it if necessary, and complete maintenance or do repairs.
“We worked out of a shop in an older barn for years,” Don Lehe recalls. “It was about one-fourth the size of our new shop. We couldn’t get most of our modern equipment in there to work on it. We needed a convenient, comfortable place to work on things. That’s what we set out to do.”

Don farms with his brothers Dick and Dale. All three returned to the farm in the early 1970s. Today, some members of the next generation are also part of the farm business. Don’s son Christopher and Dale’s son Zach both joined the business a few years ago. The family farm includes hogs and grain.

The dimensions of the Lehes’ new shop are easy to remember: 100 feet by 100 feet. That includes an office, break room and bathroom, Don notes.

Just how big is a 10,000-square-foot shop? It’s big enough that an older fire truck, parked in the shop temporarily, looked like a toy — well, almost. As the coach of the fictional Hickory Huskers, played by Gene Hackman in the 1986 movie “Hoosiers,” confided to his assistant coach after trying to convince his team that Hinkle Fieldhouse was just another place to play basketball, “It really is big!”

“One of the features we like is the in-floor heating system,” Don says. “The water is heated by propane. We don’t have actual figures, but we know it’s an efficient way to heat the space.”

Check out several of the features designed into the shop that make it farmer-friendly in the gallery below.

“We spent time planning it, and we knew we needed to be able to get big equipment in here easily,” Don says. “That guided our design.”


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