By Echo Menges
With big dreams and a warm heart, Tanner Morton, 23, of Edina is chasing his dreams of building a successful business in his hometown.
Morton grew up in Edina, like many, alongside the same group of kids from kindergarten through graduation, riding his bicycle up and down Edina’s hilly streets and hanging out at the White Castle Car Wash in high school.
During his youth, he was known for being cheerful, friendly and good natured, which has lasted into his young adulthood.
“He was a people person, even in middle school,” said Frances Jones, retired Knox County R-1 School District educator and administrator. “He continues to be a very friendly young man. I was his middle school English teacher.”
“We never had any trouble with Tanner. He was always a good kid, always honest about things – good natured,” said Edina Police Chief Ryan Bishop. “He’s still a great guy.”
Like many Edina youth, Morton grew up mowing lawns and doing side jobs for money.
“I was about 11-years-old when I started mowing lawns here in town and making money. I guess that was my first business,” laughed Morton standing inside his new shop at Cram-Mor Motors & Mid-West HydraBed in Edina. “I’ve always wanted my own business. I just never knew what it would be.”
After Morton graduated from the Knox County High School in 2013, he continued his education at the Illinois Central College in Peoria, IL. He went to school to learn mechanics and trained as an intern at Altorfer Inc., the Caterpillar dealership in Hannibal, MO, and in 2015 he got a two-year degree in Caterpillar Diesel Mechanics.
Since then, Morton opened his first car lot in Lewistown, MO, last year dubbing it Cram-Mor Motors, combining his last name with his wife’s maiden name.
“That’s my wife’s maiden name, Cramsey. We started joking about it, and it stuck. So, that’s what we ended up using. Originally, when it started, me and my wife weren’t married yet,” said Morton.
“I started selling cars in September of 2017 and started a small lot at Lewistown. I’ve always planned to move it to Edina. In March, we found this location and decided to make a go of it. It was Cram-Mor Motors when we started, and in April we got our HydraBed dealership.”
When the Morton’s took over the new location they went to work making improvements to the building.
“We rented the building starting in March and did quite a bit of cleaning up. We did some work on the office and some painting. We fixed up some water damage,” said Morton.
Cram-Mor Motors & Mid-West HydraBed officially opened on April 1, 2018.
“We offer car sales. We also offer HydraBed sales and service. HydraBed is an aftermarket flatbed you put on the back of a pickup. It has two arms that come down and pick up a bale of hay and set it in the back of the truck. It can also be used to unroll a bale of hay. A lot of people use them to transport two-bales at the same time. It’s basically a hydraulic system that’s built into the back of the truck. You see those a lot in the area. We saw a need for a place to get service, and for people to come buy them,” said Morton.
Besides offering a selection of vehicles for sale and the HydraBed sales and service end of the operation, Morton also offers several services and has his sights set on expanding the business.
“We are also offering tire service, vehicle detailing and light mechanics, like break jobs. We’re hoping, by the first of the year, to have trailer sales and service – from lawn mower trailers to stock trailers, and we will offer service on those. We’re kind of trying to make it a one-stop-shop for the convenience of the customers. We’re trying to make it to where you can go to one place and get a lot of things done. We’re planning more in the future, like accessories for trucks, hitches and installations – things like that.”
When Morton opened the Edina location, he got a little more than he bargained for in the way of a new furry friend and mascot for the shop.
“That’s Robo the Shop Dog,” said Morton about the friendly dog on the property. “When we moved in, I noticed a pair of eyes looking at me from the tall grass,” he said pointing to the tree line south of the shop. “I tried to pet him, and he growled at me. I don’t think he had a lot of human contact. I went ahead and put some food and water out, and he’s loved me ever since. He stays in the shop at night and wanders, probably a little too far, during the day. He goes over and visits the park a lot. I’m thinking of putting up an electric fence to keep him on the lot.”
Robo the Shop Dog is at ease around Morton and happy to greet customers for a friendly pat on the head.
Besides growing his business, Morton’s family is also growing. He and his wife, Emilee, welcomed their daughter Eastyn into the world in early July.
“She will get to grow up with the business,” said Morton, smiling.
During the spring and fall, Morton is working shorter hours at the shop, so he can help his family on the farm.
“I’m usually around all day, but right now I’m here from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Lately, I’ve been helping my in-laws farm. During planting and harvest season, I still help. I’m more than open to coming back and taking care of someone having an emergency, and people can make an appointment during the afternoon. We’re open Monday through Friday and Saturday by appointment.”
Morton’s business is starting to take hold.
“It’s going pretty good. We’ve had some people coming in and out – checking things out. With the weather, it’s slowed down a bit. Being a new business, we’ve been pretty thankful for everyone that has given us a chance and given us their business,” said Morton. “Edina is my hometown and I like it here. It’s like a big family to me. I enjoy going anywhere in town and knowing people and visiting with them.”
“I love to see them succeed,” said Jones. “It’s great to see them chasing their dreams and working hard to make them come true.”
Tanner Morton is the son of John and Jana Morton of Edina.
This story was featured in The Edina Sentinel on August 22, 2018.