Daughter takes the reins at Bentley Brothers

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 4 September 2020 at 9:57 am

Laura Olinger is the new owner following her father’s retirement

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Laura Olinger and her dad David Bentley stand next to a Kubota backhoe on the lot at Bentley Brothers in Albion, the business she has taken over from David after he decided to retire.

ALBION – A family business started in 1925 will continue in Albion under a fourth generation of leadership.

David Bentley of Kendall announced earlier this year he was going to scale back his involvement in Bentley Brothers and turn the reins over to his daughter Laura Olinger.

Bentley Brothers was started in Barre Center by David’s grandfather Allen Bentley selling Cletrac machines for use on the muck. His sons Gerald (David’s father) and Walter (David’s uncle) came back from the war and started working there in the mid 1940s.

David Bentley and his daughter Laura Olinger chat in her office at Bentley Brothers in Albion, where she has taken over the business started by David’s grandfather in 1925.

Allen died in 1951 and the boys continued to run the business through the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were joined by Dave, his brother Doug and sister Donna. After Donna left in the late 1980s, Doug and David took over, with David as manager and Doug as mechanic.

David had graduated from high school in 1974 and then worked part time at the business while attending Alfred State College. After graduating from there, he started full time at Bentley’s.

The business evolved during the years, from selling Cletrac, which was bought out by Oliver, then Oliver was bought by White and White was bought by Agco.

In 1980, David started selling Kubota, a company in Japan which began making farm equipment in 1972. In 1991 he moved the business from Barre Center to Route 31 west of Albion. In 2009, he purchased the Kubota dealership near Brockport.

Doug retired two years ago, and David, who recently turned 64, decided it was time to step back and let Laura run the business.

“I’ve been at this business 45 years,” Dave said.

He will continue for now to spend two and one-half days a week at Bentley’s.

Laura is joined by Brockport’s manager Darrell Morgan, who is buying into the business.

David has a son Kevin, who worked at the business growing up, but after college he wanted to become a state trooper.

David loves boating and hopes to spend more time on his cabin cruiser. He will miss taking care of the people, he said.

“Many customers have become friends,” David said.

Laura said the staff at Bentley Brothers has doubled in the past five years.

“Our goal is to always keep growing and to have what people want,” she said.

Laura has taken over at a challenging time, with the Covid-19 pandemic closing businesses, and having difficulty getting parts and equipment. In spite of that, she said business has been good. She thinks many people who couldn’t spend their money going on vacation are spending it on equipment and things for their homes.

Like her grandfather and uncle, Gerald and Walter, Laura firmly believes in being involved in the community. She recently joined the board of United Way of Orleans County. She also has joined many of her employees, helping at food distributions during the pandemic.

“I’m very fortunate to have a great family, although I work my tail off,” she said.

Three years ago, she married John Olinger, the Ridgeway highway superintendent, and they have bought the Cottages at Oak Orchard and marina at the Bridges in Carlton.

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