Orton's Equipment Co. Store

Orton's Equipment Co. a Stratford institution

By Kristen Hoverman

If you blink an eye while driving down Highway 41, you’ll miss it. In fact, most people drive right through Stratford on their way to the coast without even noticing the small farming community.

If you’re a farmer, however, you know all about Stratford. The small stretch of agriculture eight miles outside of Lemoore is home to one of the longest-running equipment companies in Kings County. One hundred and one years ago, James Orton established Orton’s Equipment Company in what became the historic town of Stratford.

Orton’s Equipment Company originally started off as a general mercantile selling anything from horse-drawn implements to seed, groceries, firearms, fishing tackle and more.

“It was the Wal-Mart of its day,” Josh Orton says with a laugh. However, the store changed with the times.

“The town’s changed quite a bit since those days,” says Jason Orton. “Post-World War II farming changed a lot.”

Grain farmers started using combines, a harvesting machine that heads, threshes and cleans grain while moving over a field. Today, Orton’s Equipment Company is the only Case IH and New Holland tractor dealer and repair center in Kings County.

In spite of all the changes over the years, one unique feature of Orton’s Equipment Company remains. The store continues to share the main street with two working dairies.

“How many people can say that?” Jason Orton laughs.

Even though the equipment company is at the end of the main street, past a growing number of vacant storefronts, it continues to be a family-owned and -operated asset to the small farming community of Stratford.

“The town’s got a unique character to it,” says Josh Orton. “A lot of people here have a lot of pride around this town.”

That same pride is shared for the equipment company where many of the employees are second-, third- and fourth-generation workers and even some of the customers are third and fourth generation.