U.S. Custom Harvesters recently hosted its 38th annual convention in Amarillo, Texas. Among this year’s hall of fame inductees were Ray and Max Keller of Keller Brothers Harvesting, Hunter, Kansas.
The USCHI Hall of Fame is the only nationwide honorarium in the United States that recognizes the top harvesters for their lifetime achievements and support of the business, without regard to affiliation with commodity groups, membership organizations or industry sector.
Ray and Max Keller are third generation custom harvesters. Harvesting runs deep in the blood of the Keller family. Someone within the family has been harvesting for a total of 70 years. Ray and Max’s grandfather, John Keller, began Keller Harvesting with his brothers. Eventually, John’s eldest sons, Harold (Ham) Keller, Leonard Keller, and Richard Keller took over the business and continued custom harvesting before their own retirement.
In 1979, Harold’s sons, Ray and Max purchased their first Massey combine and thus began the 40-year adventure. For a majority of those years, Ray and Max’s harvesting routes typically ran from Seymour, Texas, through Oklahoma and southern Kansas clear up to Presho, South Dakota, with one year even going as far north as Montana.
Though times and farming have changed, one thing has always been consistent in the Keller family: equipment was (and is) to be red, and only red. Massey Harris, Massey Ferguson, and Case IH were the only options. Most commonly they made their harvest run with a four-man crew, two Case IH combines, two trucks, and one camper.
The phrase that comes to mind is “small, but mighty.” However, as you will hear from many customers, the efficiency and heart of Keller Brothers Harvesting was often unparalleled.
Ray and his wife, Shelly, have three children—a daughter, Lacey, and twin sons, Lee and Levi. Max and his wife Kally have two children—a daughter, Morgan, and a son, Mitchell. Each of the boys became an integral part of the harvest crew at some point during their junior high, high school, and college years.
From the very first run with a Massey Ferguson 750 to their last run with two Case IH 7140s, after 40 years, Ray and Max have decided it is time to retire from custom harvesting and devote their time to their farm in Hunter, as well as traveling to visit their grown children. There is no larger, more meaningful honor than this induction into the USCHI Hall of Fame to serve as the capstone to an incredibly outstanding career for these two men.