Lines of old farm equipment cover a corner at US-54 highway and S.E. 25th Avenue, just east of Pratt, as they have for decades. But recently intermixed with the old is some more recent and even new equipment. A sign announces Carter Barker Equipment and gives a phone number.
For decades, farmers, both local and statewide, depended on Barker for hard to find repairs, good used parts and unusual new equipment.
Barker died on Oct. 18, 2019, and the business name changed to CBE LLC. Now, Barker’s son, Gary Barker, and hired man Trey Langford have taken over operations, building on the long tradition of farm support.
The business started when the family lived near Waldeck, 7 miles east of Pratt. At first, Carter Barker sold lots of used equipment and parts and some new equipment. There were wheeled springtooths from Parker Manufacturing in Oklahoma and from Noble Equipment from Iowa, Westfield tail-gate augers and more. He also had Walden double hitches made in Fairview, Okla.
When grain prices went up, farmers wanted to upgrade, including getting Walden hitches for more efficient planting. Barker had spoken for two hitches in Fairview and one farmer wanted them so much that he was willing to drive to Fairview and bring them back, Gary Barker said.
Carter spent a lot of time going to farm sales and buying old equipment for his parts business. But Gary Barker said he doesn’t have the time necessary to go to those farm sales and the prices are fluctuating. The new owners plan to phase out the older equipment sales as soon as they can.
They will still stock Westfield parts, including plow sheers, disc blades, chisel parts, sweeps, larger v-blades and more.
"We’re still going to sell like dad always did," Barker said.
Langford has worked for Barker for 15 years and he has taken Carter’s place in the farming business. Between the farming and equipment sales, they will have plenty to do.
"There’s enough to keep us busy," Barker said. "We’re getting things to fall in place."
Selling equipment was not a hobby but a business for the Barker family.
Carter’s daughter, Deb Goyen, said she recalled her dad in his overalls buying and selling parts for older equipment that was difficult for farmers to find and none of the equipment dealers had in stock.
People used to come to the farm looking for equipment. Even if they couldn’t find exactly what they wanted, they never left empty-handed. Carter made the business work and it was a good supplement to the farm and helped put Gary and Deb through school.
Buying equipment was important for Carter. It brought him happiness.
"He loved to go to sales. He didn’t want to sell, he wanted to trade," Goyen said.
Carter was a good businessman. He knew what equipment would bring. For a time, there were buyers who came up from Mexico to buy old equipment and repairs because they knew they could get it from Carter.
"We had customers all over the county. He had weird, obsolete stuff," Goyen said.
From the beginning, when the family lived near Waldeck, the business prospered. There was so much business that a farmer would drive by every 15 minutes looking for something.
"The only thing I remember was there was no privacy," said Goyen, who spent her childhood at Waldeck. "We made a lot of friends and daddy always had a fridge full of Pepsi, which the kids liked. It was good to visit with hard-working farmers."
Carter and Glen Miracle were good friends, and Miracle sold equipment and parts, as well. They often traded back and forth. They would sit in the shop for hours and swap equipment and stories, Goyen said.
When she was 13 in 1968, the family moved to the current location just south of the equipment lot, east of Pratt. There was a different house then but the business couldn’t have been at a better location. Those needing farm equipment had no trouble finding them on the corner of US-54 highway and S.E. 25th, and many still find what they are looking for there.