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Purdy Farm Center open house to mark 40 years in business

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Purdy Farm Center is celebrating 40 years in business on Friday.

Owners of the business, Gary and Judy Davis, said the facility had been a fixture in the Purdy community for almost 100 years.

"My dad bought it 40 years ago from Ralph Davis and Damon Wormington, and I bought in to the business in its second year," Gary Davis said. "My dad passed away five years ago, and since retiring from Ozark Electric and Nu Mac, I've taken a more active role in the day-to-day operations."

The business has primarily been under the management of two long-time employees, Rex Henderson and Kathy Wormington, who have been employed there for 40 years.

"In addition to Rex and Kathy, we have been fortunate to have some very loyal employees," Davis said.

Other familiar faces at the center include Danny Russell, who has been there 34 years; Aaron Gates, who has been employed at the center for 15 years; and Michelle Terry, a seven-year employee. Additional employees include Randy Burnside, Stephanie Davis, Tim Hoffman, Harlan Prink, Tommy Ray and Jeremy Watson.

Purdy Farm Center provides feed, fertilizer, hardware, fencing materials, custom orders, antibiotics, pet supplies, vaccines and farm chemical sprays, electrical and plumbing supplies, along with a small line of garden seed.

"Our customer base ranges from Arkansas, to Mt. Vernon, Neosho and Aurora," Davis said. "We are seeing family members into the second and third generation who are buying their farm supplies from us."

Wormington counts that long-standing family loyalty to a tradition of Bill Davis, Gary's father.

"When kids come in, we give them a sucker or bubble gum," she said. "They remember that, and when they bring their kids in, they get a sucker, too. Bill always said if you were nice to the children, they would come back as adults."

Davis also credits outstanding service as a reason customers are loyal to the center.

"Rex has been here 40 years," he said. "He's a farmer and has a lot of knowledge. People sometimes call Rex just to get his recommendation on what to do for their crops or cattle."

"We are also honest and fair with our customers," Henderson said. "We treat them right and respect them. All we have to sell is service."

The industry has come a long way since farmers brought their feed to the center for custom grinding and mixing. The center carries Nutrina feed products, but even that has changed over the course of 40 years.

"We used to get feed in 50-pound burlap sacks delivered by rail cars," Henderson said. "The biggest portion of our business then was dairy cattle.

"Now, it seems that beef cattle supplies almost half of the feed business, and the pelleted feed is delivered by truck," Henderson continued. "Each feed is specifically designed to meet livestock needs, milk for dairy cattle, and weight for beef."

The center also has a fertilizer plant on site, and can custom blend the product to meet the nutritional needs of crops.

"Most people bring their soil test results in from the [University of Missouri] Extension," Henderson said. "We have pull-type spreaders or truck spreaders for customers to use to distribute the product."

In addition to providing the means for the day-to-day operations of their customers, they have watched as children grew into adulthood and established families of their own, and celebrated many milestone achievements with members of the community.

"We've also gone to a lot of funerals," added Wormington. "Rex or I make a habit of one of us going to the visitation and the other going to the funeral when one of our customers die. We genuinely care about our customers as people. We're sorry when we lose a friend."

Purdy Farm Center will celebrate its milestone with a open house from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday, May 18.

Suppliers will be attending the event to answer questions and provide information to customers. Door prizes will be awarded.

"We appreciate our loyal customers," Henderson said. "We invite the community to come in and celebrate with us during our open house."

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