Interview with Rich Anderson
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater
Roberts Irrigation was started, in 1957, by Harold “Hal” and Nancy Roberts in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Harold began selling equipment for Moulton Irrigation by pulling a trailer with the family car.
“In 1959, at the urging of customers, they made the move to Stevens Point to be closer to the Central Sands,” explains Rich Anderson, general manager of Roberts Irrigation, “where the sandy soil and plentiful water made an ideal case for irrigation.”
In 1968, Richard Reinke, founder of Reinke Manufacturing, traveled to Wisconsin, and Roberts Irrigation became an official distributor. Roberts Irrigation today is the oldest continuous Reinke dealer.
“Also, in 1968, Roberts Irrigation purchased Wisconsin Pump Service, a well-drilling company,” Anderson relates. “It was at this time that Hal Roberts had the foresight to realize the benefit of having control over the total irrigation process, from well drilling to irrigation equipment distribution.”
In 1979, Hal’s son, Paul, graduated from college and began to work full-time at Roberts Irrigation. During the coming years, he continued his studies focusing primarily on well design.
In 1986, Hal retired, and Paul took over the day-to-day responsibilities of running Roberts Irrigation. Under Paul’s leadership, a second location was opened in Bloomer, Wisconsin.
“As of July 31, 2019, Roberts Irrigation has once again begun a new chapter,” Anderson reveals. “Paul made a decision to sell Roberts Irrigation to the employees.”
“The resulting ESOP [Employee Stock Ownership Plan] ensures that Roberts Irrigation will continue to be of service to its customers for years to come,” he states.