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The Cisco Companies: The Premier Midwest Wholesaler for Small-scale Retailers
Since 1965 The Cisco Companies (CISCO) has remained a family-owned and –operated enterprise, supporting small mom and pop Midwestern retailers in a mass merchant dominated market. Due to hard work and effort 2013 marks CISCO’s 48-year anniversary in the wholesale distribution of horticulture and agricultural goods.
CISCO operates out of a 120,000-square-foot heated warehouse with approximately 3 acres of outside storage in Indianapolis. The company serves a broad range of the Midwest, spanning from Ohio to Michigan, eastern Illinois to northern Kentucky, with the help of 55 employees.
“We have the capability to stock over 20,000 products at our facility,” shares Dave Pearl, CEO of CISCO. “My business partner’s father, Mike Hemmingsen, originally founded CISCO in 1965. We have a long history of supporting smaller independent retailers rather than the big-box corporations. We also support farming cooperatives throughout the Midwest. ”
“We own a wide- scope of branded products and distribute them ourselves,” details Pearl. “For the most part, we perform everything in-house.” CISCO stocks everything from seeds to lawn and garden supplies, bird and livestock feed to liquid fertilizers and owns exclusive distribution rights to products newly introduced to the U.S. market.
The company’s turf grass division is one of CISCO’s main focuses. All seed varieties have been tested in the National Turf Grass Evaluation Program, and the company only partners with high-end suppliers from the Pacific Northwest.
“Dealing with trusted suppliers, we are eliminating the possibility of receiving poor quality seeds,” reveals Pearl. “By high-quality we mean the purest seed available with little to no crop seed or weed seed present. We incorporate these products into our mixes and blends, upgrading them every year to ensure the customer is always on the cutting edge of quality and performance.”
According to Pearl, CISCO’s N-Vest brand of Cover Crops has been a tremendous addition to the company’s sales volume. “This line of products is eligible to be planted on just about any type of acreage grown for row crops,” he says. “N-Vest cover crops help the soil by controlling erosion, enhancing the soil structure by adding nutrients and organic matter and creating a deeper root system, thus allowing water and air to percolate and flow throughout the soil structure more freely. Additionally, it helps increase yields of the following year’s crops.”
Pearl continues to detail a value-added line for CISCO. “Endure brand of professional fertilizers are a premium line of fertilizers used by commercial and retail dealers to feed the lawns over an extended time frame, control weeds, and keep lawns healthy in appearance.”
Products for Beauty, Leisure and Functionality
Want the most beautiful lawn in the neighborhood? For the landscaper’s needs, CISCO supplies its own brand called Execu-Turf. The line consists of superior grass seed blends that can withstand various climatic conditions and daily wear and tear.
The company’s forage seed division provides products that are bred and evaluated for performance, high yield and persistence. “Our Enduro-Plus forage brand results in higher relative feed values, translating into more milk-per-acre, more beef-per-acre and more energy for work horses,” shares Pearl.
CISCO’s Pasture Perfect brand has been perfected for over a decade after the company enhanced the idea from the original producer, Ampac Seed Company. “This line is a proprietary blend of different forage grasses designed to meet the needs of the farming industry,” explains Pearl. “We’ve controlled this product for about 10 to 12 years, but we’re constantly updating it with newer varieties to properly target field conditions and animal nutrition.”
The company also targets feathered-friends. For the avid backyard bird watcher, CISCO carries Naturalist birdfeed mixes that are truly something to sing about. The company has a wide range of mixed seed blends and suet cakes to target an array of birds, while keeping the hobby budget friendly. “The Naturalist brand line has grown significantly in the past five years,” reveals Pearl. “As the baby boomers continue to retire, bird watching has become an activity that’s proven to be a hobby which is both rewarding and educational to the consumer.”
From the field to the water, CISCO has both aspects of a farmer’s operation covered. Pond2O is a quality line of lake and pond products that enhance the depth of water to protect bodies of water by creating a shallow water solution.
“Pond2O is a bio-stimulant that helps control and protect against excessive algae and bacteria growth and sludge build up,” adds Pearl. “It’s been a pretty popular product throughout our Midwest market.”
Pearl reveals CISCO has recently added a new line of liquid Plant Health products for multi-plant applications, from grass to alfalfa, corn to soybeans, tomatoes to potatoes and many other fruits and vegetables. “The Grow 7Seven line has been available in South America and Central America for some time now,” he says. Grow 7Seven offers farming professionals a unique way to nurture plants through nutrition, immunization and protection products while improving quality and quantity of yields. “We’re the first U.S. wholesaler to distribute this product,” Pearl continues. “We launched Grow 7Seven about a month ago. I think it has a lot of potential to be a huge success.”
After 23 years with CISCO, Pearl is no stranger to the competitive agricultural supply industry. “We’ve seen some hardship with the current economic situation because not all of our products, especially those for landscaping applications, are necessities,” he explains. “People are finding ways to live off less and one of the first things to go is the lawn-care budget. However, I don’t think the current economic situation is as bad as the media is portraying it to be.”
Despite recent challenges, Pearl is confident CISCO will continue to operate successfully, as the company nears its 50-year anniversary in 2015. “We’re looking to expand our distribution to small retailers farther east, into western Pennsylvania and surrounding areas,” he shares. For over 48 years, The Cisco Companies have provided farmers, landscapers and backyard enthusiasts the quality products needed for beauty and functionality.