Tri-County Feed Service Inc.
With locations in New Era and Montague, Michigan, Tri County Feed Service Inc. (TCF) aims to be a one-stop shop for a range of customers: mid-to-large sized producers and hobby farmers, homeowners, gardeners, pet owners and more. Today, the fourth-generation family-owned company is more diverse than ever, offering grain storage, handling and merchandising, as well as a large assortment of retail products from feed to lawn and garden supplies, work wear to alternative heating sources – the selection at TCF is growing at a good clip.
“We currently have a 200,000-bushel capacity for grain storage. We’ve expanded immensely on the grain side, so much so that space is getting limited in the other areas of our business,” says John Dahl, who represents the fourth generation of family leadership. “We have a new store in the works to make room for more retail products and to make shopping with us more convenient for our customers. It’s our goal to be a one-stop shop for a number of items regional producers need and want.”
Family ties to farm service
John’s father Marty Dahl, now owns TCF, but the business began with his great-grandfather, Marcus Dahl, in the late 1940s. “My great-grandfather started the business out of his garage in 1947,” recounts John. “The first TCF grain elevator went up in 1952 and the company started to take off.”
After serving for four years, Marcus’ son, Kenneth Dahl, was released from the Navy in December 1951. When he returned home his father added him as a business partner. The company’s Montague location was constructed and established as Dahl’s Coal and Feed, which later changed to Dahl’s Farm Service.
In 1970, Kenneth’s son, Marty Dahl, began working for the company. About 20 years later, Marty and Kenneth purchased the New Era feed mill and the company’s name changed to its current designation. In 1993, John was recruited by his father to join the family business and Kenneth retired.
“I became general manager in 2000, but I’ve been in this business since I was 13 years old,” says John. “Same with my father – he also started in his teen years. My family has many ties to farming and the feed business.”
As the fourth generation of family to run TCF, John helps carry on the company’s mission by supporting regional producers and area customers. Today, the New Era location primarily services grain and dairy customers and Montague offers more in terms of retail. “Our locations are about 10 miles apart and all in all we cover about five counties,” notes John.
“In New Era we have a full-service grain elevator and we do more grain drying and delivery to dairy farmers,” adds John. “We also specialize in custom grain blends for dairy cows, beef, horses, sheep, goats and other livestock. We produce non-GMO grain feeds as well, but it’s a small portion of our business. We offer full delivery service in bags or bulk amounts.”
Ramping up retail
In Montague, TCF caters more to hobby farmers and retail customers. “We carry a huge line of pet food – more than 70 varieties of dog, cat and puppy foods and treats,” says John. “We carry trusted names such as Nutro, Diamond, Science Diet and more. We’re also the headquarters for wildlife feed, home of the famous apple-berry-corn blend deer feed and we have wild bird seed and feeders.”
The Montague location also offers a huge selection of lawn and garden supplies, including seed, fertilizer and gardening tools. Currently, in Montague, TCF offers some alternative heating options in wood pellets by ProPellets. “We want to serve a greater footprint with alternative heating solutions, but right now space is limited so we’re taking action on adding a new retail facility,” reveals John.
Also in Montague, TCF is currently undergoing a leadership transition. “My brother, Gered Dahl, is taking over the management responsibilities of running Montague from my father,” adds John.
TCF recently purchased a new plot of land in New Era and plans for construction of a retail site – four times the size of the current location – are already in the works. “We want to expand more in selling propane products and heaters too,” says John. “TCF recently got into filling tanks and want to expand this business as well as alternative heating. This new building will increase our supply of pellets and pellet stoves.”
“We’re also looking to add more boots and footwear and farm-related hardware and small equipment in the new location,” adds John. “There are so many possibilities with this expansion.”
John says construction is likely to start sometime in 2016, but now that TCF has secured the land, things are moving forward and it’s an exciting time for the company. “We’ve been waiting to act on this goal for a while and now that the time is here, we’re very excited about the near endless options for us in retail,” he says.
After four generations, including John and Gered and their sister, Stephanie Dahl, Tri County Feed Service Inc. continues to diversify and integrate more products and services to support a range of regional customers as a valuable one-stop shop.