Huron Feeding Systems marks 40th anniversary - April 5, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
Huron Feeding Systems is marking its 40th year in business this year.
The family-owned company started in the Seili family’s garage 40 years ago, and, just like the feed-bin industry it’s a part of, a lot has changed over the past 40 years.
Owners Deb and Joe Seili started the business during a trying time for the family, with Deb pregnant with their first child and Joe wanting to have full-time work.
“I had worked seasonally for seven years and I got tired of it,” he said in a previous interview with The Citizen. “I decided to go out on my own, but, back then, there wasn’t help like there is today to get a business started.”
What started in the family garage grew into its own shop in 1986, which has expanded multiple times in the years since.
In 2015, a third warehouse was built for the company, according to Deb, thanks to the addition of the Shivvers and Meridian lines in 2014.
The company also prides itself on having parts on-hand instead of having them ordered, Joe explained.
“We’ve always carried a high inventory, probably higher than we should, but we like to have things here when people want them,” he said. “It’s impossible to keep every make and model in stock, but I try to do my best so we can help to keep the farmers going.”
Another recent change included a refreshing of the company’s main shop entrance on George Street in Brussels. The redesign was built for the International Plowing Match held in nearby Walton last year.
Deb explained that the new entrance, which is built to look like a grain bin roof, has people literally walking into the world of feeding systems when they enter the store.
As the company has changed, the industry has undergone some pretty dramatic changes, Deb said. In the early days, everything was manual and done how the customers wanted it.
“It all started with hand-cranked systems that were dangerous and heavy,” she said. “Now we’re dealing with hydraulics.”
She said that, at that time, a customer would pick a system, and have it installed and that would be the end of the transaction. These days, however, there is a lot more involved both before and after the install is completed.
“Now we build concrete bases and have to have building permits and there is so much paperwork involved,” she said. “There is paperwork for pricing, ordering, shipping, arriving and getting delivered to the grounds. Those changes all started in 1995 when we went from one computer to four computers.
Safety training has also left its mark on the industry, she said, especially over the past several years.
“We’re now doing bi-weekly training seminars for staff,” she said. “Farm organizations back us up by live-streaming these programs so we can watch them online.”
The company participates in various programs and events to spread the word about the work they do including farm shows, dealer days and customer days, all designed to keep customers and employees busy year-round.
The winter has always been a lean season in the industry, Deb said, though, recently, there have been some changes to that due to some company diversification.
“We’ve been designing and installing brewery systems in the winter,” she said. “We’ve probably been doing it for the last 10 years, but it didn’t get really heavy until the last two years. We installed a half dozen over the winter, which helps us keep sales up and keep employees working.”
As for the future, the family-owned business is going to stay that way, Deb said.
“We’re proud to have it be a family-owned business and one of our three children will be a part of it,” she said. “Jacquie [Waechter, Joe and Deb’s daughter] is here, as is her son, our grandson Tim, which means we have three generations working right now.”
Joe and Deb are hoping to retire in the next six years. However, that depends on a strong, dependable team in place for the future.
The company will be hosting an open house on Friday, April 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a barbecue lunch between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
For more information, contact Huron Feeding Systems online at www.huronfeedingsystems.com or call 519-887-6289.