Stafford Equipment Co. has officially announced the sale of the John Deere agricultural operations in Tifton, Valdosta and Douglas, Ga., to Lasseter Equipment Co. of Moultrie. The Staffords have owned the business for 60 years.

DeNean Stafford purchased the J.H. Orr Tractor and Equipment Co. located on West Seventh Street in 1951, renaming it Reliable Tractor Co. This was the first of many successful business ventures for Stafford, who eventually created the Stafford Development Co.

The John Deere locations in Valdosta and Douglas were sold along with the dealership. The John Deere dealership in Tifton was also sold to Lasseter, with Stafford retaining ownership of the location, which is now leased to Lasseter. ??“Customers who have accounts with John Deere in Tifton will see those accounts continue just as they have been,” said Matt Murphy, general manager of Lasseter Implement Co., LLC.?? Murphy continued, “While accounts will remain the same, we have made some personnel changes already, and more will be made, in order to better serve our customers. We’re certainly glad to be a part of the Tifton community. We’re here to help in any way that we can and we’re looking forward to a prosperous future.”

Kevin Belflower, president of Stafford Equipment Co., said in a press release, “We have become increasingly focused on the industrial side of the business and these dealerships will be a great addition to Lasseter’s agricultural organization. John Deere has also, over the years, shifted their business model to one of fewer and larger dealers. This is a good outcome for all of us.”

DeNean Stafford III, CEO of Stafford Development Co., has spent his life in the agricultural business.?? Looking back at historic photographs of Tifton as it was 60 years ago, Stafford turns to a 1960s photo of the original dealership building and says, “There were John Deere tractors, Ramblers and Oldsmobiles all under one roof. You wouldn’t see anything like that today. In fact, they don’t make Ramblers or Oldsmobiles anymore. Times are changing."

In a company press release, Stafford states, “We’re going to focus on real estate development and the hospitality business. Lasseter has an outstanding reputation. We wish them great success in their new endeavor.”