The sign on the front door says Nokomis Implement, although owner Kurt Aumann laughs as he says there’s never been a Nokomis Implement at that location, although there were actually three businesses over the years that were Nokomis Implement.
Instead, he transformed the building once known as Hedlund Manufacturing Company into a showroom for antique tractors and a studio for two RFD TV shows.
From 1949 to 1970, Hedlund Manufacturing Company made water skis, toboggans, snow skis, sleds and hockey sticks.
Aumann purchased the building more than a decade ago, but never could quite bring himself to tear it down.
“All that was really left was two block walls and steel arch trusses,” Aumann said.
Earlier this year, he was looking for a building to expand Aumann Auctions, a place to showcase antique tractors to customers.
“I kept looking at the concrete that was already there, and I just loved all the architectural elements,” he said. “I figure I’ve restored lots of other stuff, why not restore a building?”
The project kicked off in April when Aumann found the perfect contractor to do the job in Tyler Johnson of Johnson Renovations in Nokomis.
“I showed this building to three contractors and no one was interested,” Aumann said. “This young guy in town, he’s got an artistic flair. He took it on when no one else would, and by golly, he got it.”
Johnson, who has been doing renovation work in the Nokomis area for the past nine years, said the project was a challenge, but that he enjoyed it. “I like a good challenge,” Johnson said. “When there’s a will there’s a way.”
Johnson said Aumann drew up what he wanted in the building, which was to create a new building that looked like it was 100 years old.
“He came up with the idea and I put it on paper,” Johnson said. “I was just the builder.”
Johnson added that he started renovation work right out of high school, working with contractors in the area.
“It kind of comes naturally to me,” he said. “But I had some really great teachers.”
Johnson said the project took him and his team most of the summer to complete, but that he enjoyed the creative-outlet the project provided. He added that it was extra special to him because his grandpa worked for the ski company many years ago.
“My favorite part of the whole project was that we made it,” he said. “If the customer is happy, then we’re happy.”
In addition to Johnson, Aumann said they used local labor as much as they could, from electrical work to concrete and stone mason projects.
“But Tyler was the main man,” Aumann said. “He had a passion for it. I didn’t want him to create a new sterile environment. I wanted a building that looked like it had been here 100 years.”
And Aumann was very happy with the outcome of the building, which is now home to many unique antique tractors.
“We sell a lot of antique tractors, mostly out of this area,” Aumann said. “We wanted a place where customers could come and hang out.”
In addition, the new building is home to a studio for RFD TV, where Aumann Auctions helps with two television shows.
The first, Classic Tractor Fever, has been on the air for many years. Aumann said the auction company got involved about four years ago, sharing content from many of their road trips looking at antique tractors.
“It kind of morphed into becoming part of the show,” he said.
And just this month, a pilot for another RFD TV show was filmed in the Nokomis Implement building, which will follow the auction business. It is scheduled to come out next fall.
“Things are kind of rocking and rolling right now,” Aumann said.