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Waldo Grain: From rural feed store to urban pet and seed store

Waldo Grain Co: from rural feed store to urban pet and seed store

Waldo Grain Co. stands out as a throwback to another time, a red wooden barn that sits close to the shoulder of a busy stretch of Wornall Road at 78th Street. Built in 1926 as a country feed store, the barn’s first neighbors were Croner’s grocery and a blacksmith shop.

Its original location on 75th Terrace dates back even earlier. Harry Frey started the business with a cousin before heading to France during World War I, says Jon Goodwin, his grandson. Once overseas, Frey served as a mule train driver, delivering supplies to soldiers in the trenches.

A local banker acquired the business and moved it a few blocks south to its current location, but Frey eventually bought it back after returning home. He and his wife Myrtle (she did the bookkeeping) ran the store for years, serving farmers who would ride into town from as far south as 250th Street and commuters who would hitch their horses nearby to catch the streetcar to the Plaza or downtown—an early “park and ride,” says Goodwin.

Jon Goodwin still uses a wooden dolly from the 1930s to cart heavy loads to customers’ cars. Photo by Kathy Feist

At some point, probably in the 1930s, Frey allowed movies to be shown on the side of the barn, but he had to issue a stern warning: no more entertainment if folks did not quit stealing his chickens that roamed on the property.

These days the business is owned by Goodwin and his brother, Kurt, and the only animal on the premises is a formerly-stray cat, Schyler, who’s in charge of rodent control. The business has changed from a rural feed store to a pet food and gardening store, but a recent uptick in raising urban chickens has influenced their sales. “It’s like we’ve come full circle,” Goodwin says. “There’ll be some days when I have five straight customers buying chicken feed.”

He remembers climbing on stacks of feed as a young boy while his grandfather waited on customers. Now he’s the one greeting people and carrying chicken feed, dog kibbles and bird seed to their car trunks.

“Many generations shop here,” he says. “We know them and we know their families. This area likes independently-owned businesses.”

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Goodwin lives in the Bridlespur neighborhood of south Kansas City. He worked as a teacher for a short time before switching to full-time at the store in 1990. Conditions remain rustic—the barn has survived a fire or two and suffers occasional leaks when it rains (he keeps four buckets handy to catch drips). The only room with heat and air is a small corner office.

Sales at the grain company, described as Waldo’s longest continually operating business, are distinctly seasonal, according to Goodwin. In spring and fall he sells grass seed, fertilizer and soil amendments like cotton burr compost, peat moss, pelletized limestone and gypsum. Flower seeds are mostly sold in packets and vegetable seeds can be purchased by the dip from drawers in an old wooden cabinet. Wild bird seed sells well in winter, and some customers take home 50-pound sacks of raw peanuts for cardinals and woodpeckers.

Finch seed is sold by the dip. Photo by Jill Draper

Goodwin also sells finch seed by the dip, and credits his grandfather, along with radio personality Toby Tobin, with introducing finch feeders to Kansas City. “That’s the story I was told,” he says.

In addition to dog and cat food, Goodwin offers a variety of pet treats, collars, toys and accessories. Others buy food for koi fish, rabbits or wild “pets” like squirrels, chipmunks and deer.

In the quiet time between customers, Goodwin sometimes wonders if his grandfather would be surprised to learn the business he started is going on its 105th year. He wonders what his experience was like in France during WWI and the deadly 1918 flu pandemic. And how about all these city chickens—would he ever have thought raising chickens would become so popular again?

Goodwin especially would like to tell him thanks. “He provided a business that enabled a divorced mother of three little boys in the 1960s to survive and to raise them all to graduate college, raise families of their own and continue his business past the 100-year mark with pride. His was truly the early American dream!”

Two Great Teams Are Now One In The Same!

In January 2015, Waldo & Associatess, Inc. of Perrysburg, Ohio and Premium Horticultural Supply Co. in Louisville, Kentucky joined hands to better serve you. These two highly respected horticulture distributors are officially one company. This is great for you, our valued customer, because the product line is now expanded with new items being offer all the time. Services such as custom greenhouse structures, parts and a vast array of irrigation parts to save you time and money.

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See the next slide to find out more information about Premium Horticultural Supply Co.

About Premium

Our focus is to meet the needs of our valued customers with products and services that help your business “grow”. In a market area of constant change, we have stayed true to providing a vast array of grower products, nursery supplies and truly distinctive garden center items, which allow our consumers to be competitive and be profitable. The right products at the right price is not always an easy task. However, top-level customer service is our ultimate goal.

For over 41 years, we have been a solid, stable and a key component in Kentucky, Southern Indiana and Southern Ohio region. Our roots run very deep in this industry from lawn seed, farm equipment and garden hard goods to our present day stock of everything essential to the greenhouse grower, nursery & garden center. Premium Horticultural Supply didn’t become a leader in our marketplace overnight. This is a process that requires two things; great customer relationships and having the knowledge of this industry to be your best source for products that work. We understand the green industry and work hard to be sure you are getting what you need to be successful.

WALDO Seed Investment Round Germinating New Forest Industry Solution

October 11, 2021, Chassell, MI – Today Waldo Solutions, Inc announces the successful closing of its pre-seed investment round with the addition of a strategic angel investor.

Logging is a multi-billion-dollar industry burdened with manual processes, particularly in the areas of wood security, inventory control, and logistics. These inefficiencies result in significant cost increases and produce less than optimal results for truckers, loggers, mills, and land management companies.

Through its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Platform and Mobile Application, Waldo enables seamless communication for improved planning, control, transparency, chain of custody, security, safety, and reporting. Waldo compiles and transmits data electronically, eliminating the need for the current paper system, providing unparalleled efficiencies to all parties.

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“Waldo is truly unique because our solution finally enables land management companies and sawmills to connect and conduct business electronically with all of the independent loggers and truckers who represent the vast majority of the supply chain”, says Waldo CEO Leo Huhta. “We are very excited to secure this investment round and proceed with achieving our next set of milestones”.

Waldo is an Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan company and has been supported by MTEC SmartZone’s Transformative Technology Accelerator Program since shortly after the company’s inception in 2020. MTEC helped Waldo prepare its investment materials, provided introductions to strategic angel investors and its initial pilot customer, one of the largest timberland management companies in the United States.

“We are thrilled for the Waldo team,” said Patrick Visser, CCO of MTEC SmartZone. “Waldo’s solution really helps address an industry need and is sophisticated, yet easy-to-use innovation for the forest industry, which has a major presence across the U.P. of Michigan.

Waldo will be utilizing the new investment capital to enhance and scale its technology, expand the pilot program and form a sales team.

About Waldo

WALDO Solutions, Inc. is a Forestry 4.0 chain-of-custody SaaS Platform and Mobile Appsenabling seamless communication for improved planning, control, transparency, security, safety, and reporting. Waldo offers real-time information on job site progress and a fast and efficient way for land management companies and mills to manage and coordinate their jobs while complying with chain-of-custody requirements. Waldo compiles data electronically eliminating the need for the current paper system, providing unparalleled efficiencies to all parties throughout the value chain.

About MTEC SmartZone

Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC) is one of 20 SmartZone Incubators in the State of Michigan. MTEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), its mission is to facilitate the creation and ongoing success of high-tech value propositions in conjunction with the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since 2003, the MTEC SmartZone has provided mentoring, technical support, and other services to local companies that have led to the creation of over 800 high-tech jobs in the Houghton and Hancock Michigan area.