When Dennis Meirick’s parents got married, they farmed with his grandfather in Northeast Iowa until the mid-1960s when – with seven kids and one more on the way – they took an opportunity to buy a feed mill in nearby Protivin. Farmers Mill Inc. was established in the summer of 1964.
“My dad went out and started making feed, selling feed and bagging feed on his own,” Dennis says. “The risks he took back then dwarf the stuff we do now. He was doing it all by himself on a shoestring.”
Bill Meirick also found himself pioneering commercial fertilizers, bulk herbicides and the development of drainage systems in Howard County, where tiled acres were scarce but sorely needed. Back then, Farmers Mill had a grain capacity of 40,000 bushels, but Dennis says his dad saw the potential for growing the facility – which he did for 23 years until his retirement.
Today the business is owned and operated by three Meirick brothers: Dennis, Mark and Joel. The 2nd generation Meiricks continued to diversify their operation, and – with crucial guidance from Kent Feeds – they joined two other families in the late 1990s and started Parish Foods. The farrow to finish pork production system began with 1200 sows in 1997 and has since grown to 5400 sows and counting. They produce 100,000 butcher hogs a year now, with Kent “still feeding the herd,” Dennis says.
“We rely on Kent a lot – their expertise in the latest trends and newest products that they share with us and keep us current with,” he says. “They get what we need, and they get it to us fast. That’s valuable.”
They also bring in a million bushels of grain just to feed them, Dennis says – proof that their dad’s hard work and vision for Farmers Mill paid off.
“People still call and ask for my dad by name, even though he’s been retired for 33 years,” he says, adding that Bill, who turns 85 this year, still comes in to the store for coffee visits. “Our customers are loyal to us, and we are loyal to them. They appreciate that Kent is a family-owned business that makes good decisions for our collective success.”
Dennis, Mark and Joel, three of eight Meirick siblings, live in Protivin, Iowa, where they split management duties at Farmers Mill. Mark handles the grain merchandising, Joel takes care of the agronomy details and Dennis manages the accounting work. When they aren’t working, the brothers enjoy playing golf, watching baseball and traveling with their families.