Kristi Lundquist, Wabash County Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, announces Agro Chem, Inc. as the 2013 Business of the Year. “The level of dedication that Agro Chem has invested in this community is evident through their commitment to quality products and services,” stated Lundquist. “Celebrating their success and community impact is part of the Chamber’s mission.”
Gary Cooper founded Agro Chem, Inc. in 1975. Gary’s first employee was his lifelong friend, Ernie Peas. The business operated outside of Wabash on the Cooper’s home farm located on SR 124. As the business continued to grow there was opportunity for Ernie’s three sons, Brian, Brad and Mark, to join the business following their graduations from Purdue University.
In 1994, Ernie purchased Gary’s shares of the business and a year later opened a second Agro Chem location in Wilmington, Ohio, to meet the need of a growing customer base outside of Indiana. In 2003, Agro Chem, Inc. had expanded beyond the capacity of their original location and moved the business to a vacant retail facility located closer to town on SR 15. Ernie retired from Agro Chem in 2009; however Brian, Brad and Mark Peas continue to manage the daily operations of Agro Chem, Inc. in Wabash and Wilmington.
Agro Chem’s original business plan was the sale of agricultural chemicals and spray equipment. In the mid 1980s, Agro Chem discontinued selling chemicals and began exclusively selling application equipment that was manufactured in-house at their facility. Today, Agro Chem only manufactures a small quantity of spray equipment at Wabash, rather their primary business focus is the distribution of various types of agricultural equipment manufactured by other companies.
Their main lines of equipment include: anhydrous ammonia toolbars, liquid applicators, pull-type sprayers, agricultural tanks (poly, stainless steel and fiberglass), dry fertilizer and lime spreaders and tile plows. In addition to their equipment distribution, Agro Chem has an electronics department specializing in agricultural equipment for automatic steering, spray controllers, shut off for spray booms, and row shut off for planters.
Although Agro Chem Inc. was founded as a source for agricultural spray equipment, as the needs of customers changed, Agro Chem continues to add lines of equipment to help their customers perform efficiently and innovatively. Agro Chem has found a successful niche selling many different product lines and enjoys a top five national sales ranking with many of the companies in which they represent. Between the Wilmington, Ohio and Wabash offices, Agro Chem, Inc. employs 33 individuals. Agro Chem has a traveling sales force calling on customers in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky. In addition, Agro Chem, Inc. has benefited from sales throughout the United States and internationally through their retail website.
“Agro Chem’s roots were planted in Wabash, not only because of Wabash’s rural and agricultural advantages, but also because of the family and Christian values respected by the community and important to the company’s founder, owners and employees,” shared Ernie Peas. “Agro Chem, Inc. has been blessed by their employees and customers and looks forward to continued growth and success in Wabash for many years to come.”
Agro Chem will be honored at the Wabash County Chamber of Commerce 72nd Annual Dinner meeting to be held Thursday, Oct. 10. The event is open to the public. Tickets will be available in September. This year’s Premier Event Sponsors to-date are: Beacon Credit Union, First Farmers Bank & Trust, Beauchamp & McSpadden. Event Sponsors are: Schlemmer Bros. Metalworks; Crossroads Bank; Quality Electric; ACE Pump; Mutual Bank; Wabash Electric; NIPSCO; TeeJet Technologies; First Merchants Bank; Duke Energy; Friermood Tire & Alignment; Dawes & Pugh CPA’s; LLC; Shepherd’s Chevrolet & Oldsmobile; and Wabash County Hospital.