Entrepreneur, Business Owner
Class of 1956
Sycamore born and raised, Gary Holland’s life has played out like a perfect piece of advice he might pass on to his grandchildren: Stay humble. Work hard. Be kind.
For Gary, a Sycamore High School Class of 1956 alumni, much kindness was extended to him in the form of many mentors along the way, most notably his football coach Pete Johnson. Coach Johnson helmed Gary’s 1955 Sycamore High Hall of Fame undefeated football team and Little Seven Conference Champions, where Gary was selected for the All-State Team.
Coach Johnson also coordinated Diversified Occupations (D.O) at SHS in 1954, the learning-by-doing program where Gary found his niche at farm equipment dealership Read Brothers Oliver dealership in DeKalb. Gary spent the next two years working and learning the farm equipment trade as a service technician.
In 1958, Gary married his high school sweetheart, Judy Martin (SHS Class of 1957), and joined Read Brothers full time. Through his dedication and work ethic, Gary was given the chance to work for Oliver Corp. in Peoria, Illinois, as a travelling service representative. Then, in 1963, an even bigger opportunity presented itself. Gary was asked to become a minority partner in McAllister Sales & Service, an Oliver dealership in Sandwich, Illinois.
Between 1960 and 1968, Gary and Judy welcomed their three sons, Tyrone, Todd and Troy, to the Holland family. Gary kept himself open to opportunity and bought a minority partnership in a John Deere dealership in Mendota, IL, in 1972. Through effort and vision, Gary purchased the remaining interest in the dealership, renaming it Holland & Sons, Inc. All three sons worked in the dealership from an early age.
Gary made good use of the principles he learned growing up in Sycamore, like drive, determination, and risk-taking to grow Holland & Sons, Inc. over the course of two decades to include dealerships in Princeton, Dixon, Freeport, and Geneseo, Illinois. Today, Holland & Sons, Inc. employs 120 people full-time, all of them considered extended members of the Holland family.
Gary credits the company’s success to his devoted employees and the management skills of his sons, Ty and Todd, who are now part owners and run the business today. Gary’s youngest son, Troy, went on to study law at John Marshall Law School, became an attorney, and was elected as a LaSalle County Circuit Court Judge in 2012.
The years have brought Gary three amazing daughters-in-law, eight bright grandchildren, a sweet great-grandchild, and more on the way. In January 2018, Gary and Judy will celebrate 60 years of wedded bliss.
A leader in the farm equipment industry, Gary served as Director of the Illinois Retail Farm Equipment Association, and was featured in a Forbes Magazine article on John Deere dealerships. Even more, Gary dedicated himself to help his community as a director and past president of the Mendota Community Hospital, director of the National Bank of Mendota, and past president of the Mendota Rotary Club. In his semi-retirement, Gary collects classic cars and tractors and inspires the next generation of Hollands to live a life of integrity.
Gary says he is humbled and honored to be a part of this group of Distinguished Alumni. Attending Sycamore High School and learning from his mentors there had a large part in shaping his life and business career.