Schreiers: A true Monroe County legacy Brothers in business, purveyors of honor


Recently, two brothers, both iconic members of the Monroe County community, passed away within 19 days of each other. They were Dave and Dick Schreier. The two were in business together for several decades, with renowned local businesses Schreier Implement, Schreier Oil, and Schreier’s Lawn and Sport.

In addition to the businesses, Dave Schreier was an integral force in the Tomah Tractor Pull, having met Johnny Cash through his connections in promoting events. The Herald recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Schreier’s son, Chris Schreier, to learn more about his father and uncle; someone who was right there by their sides through it all.

Chris started out by telling the Herald that the two brothers, Dick and Dave, never argued during their decades-long business affiliation. “They spent their whole lives together. They knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Dad would do the promoting and sales, getting the businesses to grow, and Dick would keep the internal strength of the business sound.”

In 1964, Dick Schreier bought into a John Deere dealership, in Norwalk. Dave was still farming at the time but bought Melvin Savall's half of the John Deere dealership in 1965, officially initiating the Schreier business bond. The brothers then entered into the oil business, by purchasing John Williams' Standard Oil jobbership in Norwalk, in the early 70s, and then Dick Dana in the mid 70s.

About Schreier Oil, Chris stated, “We did farm and home deliveries, and dad and Dick started that in the early 1970s, in Norwalk and Tomah. I bought that in the late 80s, when they started getting out of the business.”

Chris Schreier explained that he grew up in the businesses of his father and uncle and, at a young age, he started learning the finite details of being a businessman. “I worked in the Norwalk implement business, from working on lawn and garden equipment to working in the parts room, to working sales and eventually running Schreier’s Lawn and Sports in Tomah, which they opened in 1972. In 1980 I started managing it, until they closed that up in the late 80s. I have had only two bosses in my life, my family and when I sold the oil business to Midwest Fuels in 1994, I stayed on and worked for them, until I retired 29 years later, on December 26th, of 2023.”

Chris went on to say that because he was in a family-run business, he learned the values of being consistent, and putting your all into your everyday. He also stated that the Mathy family, whom he sold the oil business to, had exactly the same philosophy because they are also a family-owned business. “That’s the way dad was. He focused strongly on what was at hand, and he was very serious about it. His sole concentration at the end of the day was getting the job done and making sure your customers were taken care of, to the best of your ability.

Tomah Tractor Pull

It did not take long for the Herald interview with Chris Schreier to work its way up to the Tomah Tractor Pull. “My father [Dave Schreier] started the tractor pull in Tomah,” Chris started out. “It started out with the Norwalk Lion’s Club, when they brought the Blacktop Tractor Pull to Norwalk. Dad was with the Lion’s Club at the time. Then he was invited to be on the Monroe County Fair Board [Monroe County Agricultural Society], around 1968. The board was always looking to raise money and dad suggested that they bring the local tractor pull in. They did, and in 1976 dad decided to bring the national pull to Tomah, to the fair.”

Chris Schreier reiterated his father’s dedication to anything he was involved with. Chris told the Herald that his father really investigated and thought things through. Dave noted that there was a national pull in Crystal Lake, Minnesota, at their Farm Fest event. “Dad thought, ‘Why not put a national pull on here, in Tomah. The national pullers would stop by if we put ours on a week later.’”

Withing two years, the Tomah Tractor Pull became so strong that the Tomah High School football field, which was at the fairgrounds, was taken over by them. It was met with resistance from the city council, but with help from the Ag Society, the field was relocated to the High School.

At that time, the County Fair was hosting big name Country & Western artists and both the County Fair & the Tractor Pull were able to give considerable financial support to the city.

Inside Scoop

The Schreier family also competed in tractor pulls. “We went on the National Circuit back in 1973,” Chris said. “We pulled all over the country, and starting in 1976, wherever we went, we took fliers for the Tomah Pull. We would walk right up into the stands and hand them out. Dad was on the board for the Wisconsin Tractor Pullers, and with his direction, we grew.”

Chris informed the Herald that when they pulled nationally, they started out in Nebraska and went East. “Basically, we would head through Missouri and Iowa, then trough Illinois and Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. We also pulled in Chapel Hill, Tennessee; the Bull Pull in Hamburg, New York; and Pennsylvania. We started in June and ended in September. It seemed we were somewhere new every week.”

Change of Scenery

Even before the Schreier brothers had sold their businesses, in the mid 80s, Dave Schreier had gone to Ohio, to run the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA), in 1985. “The NTPA was nearing bankruptcy when dad arrived. Dad formed World Pulling International (WPI), which governed the NTPA, oversaw their operations and helped promote the event. Once more people showed an interest in running it [NTPA] like a business, it got strong and grew, and is still running to this day.”

Dave Schreier brought in shareholders that believed as he did, in the future of tractor & truck pulling and formed World Pulling International (WPI). He made them believe that it could work. “Before, it was being run by the pullers and it just grew too big for them to handle it,” Chris explained. “Dad helped guide them, by showing them that everyone had to work together, the pullers, promoters and sponsors. Then there were rules and safety issues that had to be addressed as well.”

Dave stayed in Ohio until around 1997. “When he got back, dad still ran that office from Tomah,” Chris said. “He was CEO of World Pulling International. He stepped down from that job at 80 years old, which was only 4 years ago. That was proof to everyone that his heart was in it … he loved it. You do not stay with something until your 80 unless your whole heart is in it.”

Chris managed the Tomah store and handled the work at the farm, while Dave was in Ohio. When Dave moved back, he started selling tractors again, and he sold a bunch of them. “When dad turned 80, we sold the cows and farmed part time. He was also still on the fair board and involved with the tractor pull. As soon as he got back we put him right on the fair board — there was no way we were going to let him just sit around.”

Chris said that his dad was a leader, and he was great at giving direction. “He never had an outward temper, even when frustrated,” Chris stated. “For him it was all about communicating with people, talking with them. He was very diplomatic, but not like a politician, where you are lying to people to get through it. Everything he said was honest and straight forward. He knew there was always a calm way to an amicable answer. He was a great listener. Dad had a saying he really liked, ‘Never argue with a fool, lest you be a fool yourself.’”

  “Dad and Dick took pride in whatever they did and that included the pulls,” Chris continued. “Their belief was to always make a good representation. Compete hard, look good, and of course, they stressed winning. There were no slouches in our group. It was expected that everyone contributed 100 percent.”

Chris explained that sometimes it was just his dad and him at the pulls, and sometimes their friends came along and enjoyed the moment with them. “We all dressed in John Deere colors. We have been John Deere since the beginning, back in the 60s.”

Chris is still president of the Monroe County Ag society, which puts on, the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals tractor pull, as well as the Monroe County Fair. There are nine members on the board and roughly 200 volunteers that help with the pull.

Chris grew up around the strong energies of his father and his uncle, but he stated that it was just a part of his life. “I grew up side-by-side with dad. I was not involved with a lot of things at school, I was involved with the customers and the business. So, my friends and the people I hung around were all decades older than me. I was always just a part of it.”

There were moments, Chris told the Herald, where he watched his father speaking at award banquets and thought, “Look at what he has done and what he has built.”

Chris remarked, “Look at we got here that not all communities have.”

Johnny Cash and Dave Schreier

Chris informed that Herald that his father was always a big fan of Johnny Cash. Through his promotion of the Tomah Tractor Pull, Dave Schreier was able to meet the Man in Black himself, in the mid 80s. “Dad knew Jimmy Jay [Blauw], who was promoting entertainers, and Jimmy Jay knew Lou Robin, the manager for Johnny Cash, so it was inevitable that dad would meet Johnny.”

In parades around Monroe County, it is not uncommon to see a massive truck dedicated to honoring the memory of Johnny Cash. The truck is an all-black Peterbilt, and it was bought by Dave Schreier at a Mecum Auction, which is famous for high end vehicle auctions throughout the United States. “Dad called it the “Cashillac,” Chris quipped with the Herald. “He brought it home and said, ‘Man, I would really like to put a bunch of Johnny Cash stuff on there.’ He took his ideas and the truck up to a guy near the twin cities, and the guy wrapped it that way.”

They were two strong forces of energy, bound by brotherhood and a strong sense of community and professional work ethic. Dick and Dave Schreier grew up on a Norwalk farm, where their parents also owned a tavern and a restaurant. Every Saturday night, in that town of 400, their parents sold chicken dinners, at 25 cents a plate, which provided the socializing event for the town as well. Their record was 350 dinners.

The record of Dick and Dave is a legacy that can be seen in all facets of the Monroe County Fair, the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals tractor pull, the Norwalk Lions Truck & Tractor Pull, the strong continuation of the National Tractor Pullers Association (NTPA) and World Pulling International, which governs the NTPA. The fact that they left 19 days apart is a strong indication that they were determined to accomplish more magnificent feats … together.

The Herald would like to thank Chris Schreier for his time and extensive effort for this Herald article.

Benny Mailman, Finding 42, Scheirer, Dave Schreier, Dick Schreier, Chris Schreier, Tomah, Monroe County Wisconsin, Norwalk, NTPA, WTP, legends, Schreier Implement, Norwalk tractor pull, Monroe County Ag society, Monroe County fair


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here