Owner, Dolezal Farm Supply – Toledo, Iowa
If it has anything to do with livestock, Darron Dolezal sells it – gates, fence posts, electric fencers, hay feeders, mineral feeders, calf pullers . . . and of course, feed. His third-generation family farm supply business carries equipment and nutrition products for all types of livestock – from hogs and cattle to sheep, goats, and chickens. Oh, and the occasional commercial-raised deer, fish and camels. Dog and cat food are great companion products for customers, too.
“We can get it all,” Dolezal says. “Pretty much anything you need for pretty much any type of animal.”
For decades, the business operated from the family’s farm outside of Toledo. Dolezal’s father purchased it from his own father in 1986, and six years later they moved into town, where it now occupies four buildings – two of which are warehouses that enable Dolezal to keep a large inventory and variety of products on hand.
“We can hold a lot of bags of feed, usually 600 bags of mineral at a time, which is good for us and good for customers,” he says. “And we go through a semi-truckload of fencing every 10 days, with customers driving 40 miles to get it because they know we’ll always have it available.”
Having that kind of inventory is especially important when it comes to the nutrition products he sells, 75 percent of which is Kent Feeds. Dolezal says he relies on the brand to make him “look good” when it comes to meeting customers’ expectations.
“Kent does an unbelievably good job getting orders made and provided to me right on time,” he says. “Product availability and getting it quick to producers is important for them to be profitable and manage their day-to-day needs.”
Dolezal’s Farm Supply is still family-run, with Darron’s parents, Doug and Deb, working daily along with his brother-in-law, Mike – an important addition to the business. The building is always a busy place in town, with 50 or 60 customers coming by on any given day. Many often stay a bit, to talk to the family and sample some of baked goods that Dolezal’s children, nieces and nephews like to bring from home to share.
“My dad cooks food for our employees every day, and we always have a table set up with stuff to eat,” Dolezal says. “People just visit with each other or grab a sandwich or whatever. We’ve built a lot of good relationships over the years that way.”
Dennis Crawford, who has been the Kent sales manager for Dolezal’s since 2010, says the family’s own farming and cattle operation helps them relate directly to their customers’ needs. Their business grows because they share their experiences with producers, he says.
“They pride themselves on service to their customers and providing sound advice on everything from farm and ranch equipment to animal nutrition,” Crawford says.
Dolezal says the business has never had a sales team, and advertising isn’t really their thing. They are successful because of their relationships, and because they stay competitive by selling better products at a better price. The business growth comes from customer word-of-mouth.
“My dad and I always tell our customers we’re definitely not the smartest guys, but we’re fighting all the same problems,” he says. “It’s important to always talk to people, because you never know how you might help someone else. We learn every day from talking to our customers. That’s where a lot of our knowledge comes from.”
Darron lives with his wife, Elizabeth, in Toledo, where he grew up on his family’s farm. Outside of work he stays busy with his three young children (and any number of their sports activities). Darron also enjoys golfing and spending time at the lake.