HILLSBURGH – Hillsburgh Feed and Supplies Ltd. closes its doors after nearly 60 years of service to the Erin-Hillsburgh community.
Owners Don and Dave Cheyne recently sold the property, known locally as the Hillsburgh Feed Mill.
The pair will officially close shop on August 31.
The family business has been around since 1966, when Don and Dave’s father and grandfather started the business.
After his grandfather passed away a few years later, the business operated under the supervision of his father and mother and various employees until Don and Dave were old enough to help out.
“I worked here well into the 80s and things were a little dark in the animal feed business and I went to do something else,” Don explained.
“My younger brother Dave was here; he’s been here roughly 40 years.
After their father died in 1997, Don returned in 2000 to help his brother and it’s been just the two of them since 2000.
Don said several factors led the family to decide to sell the property and retire.
“Our equipment is getting old, we are getting old, no child wants to take it back,” he told the Advertiser.
“We’re a pretty small fish in a big pond right now, so it was just timing.
“We have mixed feelings of course,” he added.
“I mean, 56 years is a long time, and you meet a lot of people. But the time had come, and it seems like we just had to make a decision one way or the other and we made it.
For their current customers, Don said there are a few options to turn to when the factory closes, namely Sharpe Farm Supplies, which he says can pretty much service anyone.
They have also arranged for McKinnon’s Timber Mart to expand its line and help former customers with their dog food, bird food, grass seed and fertilizer.
Budson’s in Erin will handle the larger items for horses, cattle and hogs.
Don noted that he doesn’t know what the next owners will do with the property.
While at the factory, Don said the couple had watched the industry change over the years.
“In the beginning, there were only cattle, pigs and chickens,” he explained.
“And then the horses started coming in and in the early 80s we started making our own horse feed here.
“Now our sales are 90% horse feed, cattle feed – like any kind of farming business, it’s all gotten huge, huge, huge if you’re not going to stay there [and] we weren’t equipped to serve this type of client, so we stuck to the bare essentials.
The farming community isn’t like it used to be, says Don.
“The farming community was made up of guys who milked a few cows and had chickens or pigs,” he explained, noting that they were mostly farmers trying to make a living, whereas now many customers who walk through the doors are hobby farmers. .
There’s also a unique history to the mill, Don explained. The mill originally housed a school, which he says closed in 1963.
“My dad worked for a company called Brampton Milling that opened a new factory in Hillsburgh…then in 1963, 1964 maybe, they bought this building and moved here,” he said.
Soon after, the company decided it no longer wanted the Hillsburgh location, so its owners sold it to Don and Dave’s father and grandfather.
“Then they just added equipment and made it a factory,” Don explained.
“There’s only two or three pieces of equipment they really needed and then, of course, over the years we had grain silos and warehouses and stuff like that.
“But the building is pretty much how the school got away from it, except for the things we added to it.”
Although most of their products are farm-related, over the years the duo have dabbled in many areas, Don explained, including small engine repair, hardware and plumbing.
“A lot of it was farm-related, but you just touched on a bit of everything,” he explained.
Speaking on behalf of himself and Dave, Don said they enjoyed their time serving the community.
“We’ve had the privilege of serving the farming community and many others over the years, and we appreciate the loyalty of our customers,” he said.
“I mean, we have clients who have been with us for over 40 years.”
Don noted that their mindset was always “let’s do what we can do the best we can, keep costs down.
“Our dad started his business in 1966 and we tried to live up to his standards of quality products at fair prices and great service, and I hope we did,” he said. he declares.
“We will miss all the daily interactions with everyone, but times are changing and you need to move on.”