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No. 12, S&H Farm Supply

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Lockwood-based S & H Farm Supply has evolved with the market since 1969 when brothers-in-law Wayne Schnelle and Erwin Hedeman opened the business, choosing its name based on their last names and the then-popular S & H Green Stamps.
It’s not all about agricultural operations any more; rather, the business has a broader customer base that includes industrial and residential clients and products that range from agricultural tractors to backhoes.
“We go a lot by S & H because we do so much more than farm supply. We’re doing lawn and garden and quite a bit of industrial sales,” said Mike Wiles, store manager of the Springfield location at 2520 N. Eastgate Ave.
In the beginning, S & H’s founders sold grain bins and buildings from the Schnelle home in Lockwood. In 1974 the business moved to the corner of highways 97 and A, just south of Lockwood. In April 2003, with the acquisition of Team New Holland, S & H entered the Springfield market, with a second office at 2520 N. Eastgate.
“New Holland is our main line at both stores,” said Eric Schnelle, S & H vice president. “That consists of the tractors and the hay equipment, the industrial and the lawn and garden equipment, so it’s a wide range of products.”
The Springfield store was added in April 2003. S & H now has 85 employees.
Today, S & H is owned by Eric Schnelle’s father, Wayne Schnelle, who is the company’s president. Wayne’s wife, Shirley, is the secretary, and in many ways, their son grew up with the company. When Eric Schnelle graduated from Southwest Missouri State University in 1987, he bought out Terry Hedeman, Erwin Hedeman’s son, and began working at S & H full time.
“We are more than just a farm store. We expanded a lot for the homeowner and part-time farmer and construction site, too. The Springfield market has opened up that quite a bit. At Lockwood, 50 miles away, the bulk of our business is all farm,” Schnelle said.
“Probably the biggest percentage of our business right now in (the Springfield) store is made up of the weekend farmer,” Wiles said, giving the example of someone with five acres trying to keep the pasture mowed down.
“If you took the hobby farmer and the ag guy together, that’s probably 80 percent of our business at (the Springfield store),” Wiles said. He said that the remainder of the customer base for Springfield is industrial, as in backhoes and heavy machinery.
The Springfield store did $7.5 million in sales in 2004, compared to total sales of $32 million for both S & H locations.
Eric Schnelle said S & H’s sales grew 23 percent from 2002 to 2003 and 33 percent from 2003 to 2004. Schnelle credits the strong economy and, in particular, a strong farm and cattle market with part of that growth.
“The key to our growth is we have a really good item, are dedicated to what we do, and help customers out by giving advice and guiding them to what they need,” Schnelle said.
Also beneficial to the company’s growth has been following his father’s aggressive marketing strategy, Eric Schnelle said.
Marketing – from a visibility standpoint – is what Schnelle cited as the reason for a planned October move for the Springfield store to a location on Highway 60. The new 20,000-square-foot store will sit on 22 acres near Rogersville.
“A lot of people don’t know where we’re at,” Wiles said of the Springfield store.
“With the market we’re in, it’s critical for people to say, ‘I know where those guys are, and I ought to visit with those guys before I buy,’” Schnelle added
And the company is working toward continued future growth.
“We’re not to where I want to be yet in customers served. I want to be one of the leaders. We haven’t yet made everybody happy. Our goal is to do that. We’ve got a lot ahead – to move to another place and add staff. It takes time to get everybody on board,” Wiles said. “We’re working on that.”
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