Celebrating 45 Years of Service in West Liberty, Iowa —
Fred Miller opened Fred’s Feed & Supply in 1966 — directly across the street from a Kent retail store in West Liberty, Iowa. At the time, Miller was primarily selling another brand of feed and various farm supplies, always keeping an eye on his competitor on the other side of the road. And then, a few years later, he bought it.
“He knew it was a better facility than what he had, and Kent had a good, established business,” says his son, Bruce Miller, who now owns Fred’s Feed & Supply with his brother, Larry. “So he moved across the street and within five years the only feed we were selling was Kent. Feed-wise, it’s the best decision we ever made.”
Their business changed over the years, in a town of roughly 4,000 people that’s “not big, but big enough to have good store traffic,” Bruce Miller says. Today Fred’s Feed sells hardware, lawn and garden products and, of course “quite a bit of feed.” He and his brother bought the store in 1996 from their dad, who retired but continued to come in every day until he passed away seven years ago.
“He was an innovator,” Bruce says of his dad. “He was willing to take chances on things, and that is a big reason for our success.”
At the end of this year, after 45 years as a Kent dealer, Bruce and Larry are passing the business reins to Ben Probst, who worked at Fred’s Feed throughout high school and while attending college. Probst, 29, plans to put his marketing degree to good use as the new owner, and Bruce says he and Larry will remain involved in the store every day — just on a more part-time basis.
“My dad was 65 when he retired, so that’s what kind of spurred this,” Bruce says. “But I expect we’ll be hanging around and helping out as long as we can, just like he did.”
Logan Lafrenz, a Kent territory sales manager who works with Fred’s Feed, says the business has a long reputation of dedicated service in the community. “You won’t find better people who love serving others,” Lafrenz says. “They’re just good people.”