CANFIELD, Ohio — Wayne and Sara Greier beg customers not to let the appearance of the newly remodeled Greier Ag Center scare them away.
The family business’ new country store, complete with wormy wood floors and handcrafted wood cabinets and display shelves, are meant to give the shop a homey, comfortable feel, the couple admit.
“We want the guys to come in here with mud on their boots,” Wayne Greier said. “Don’t be afraid to mess it up. This is a farm store. We want the place to wear.”
The decor of the new country store may be unconventional when it comes to what farm customers are used to, the Greiers admit. But even though times — and customers — have changed, the business’ guiding principles of service and resourcefulness have stayed the same.
A new era
Wayne Greier, 25, and his wife, Sara, purchased the business from his mother, Diana, during the past year. She and her late husband, Gerald Greier, started the business in 1973 from their home in Austintown.
“Dad sold fertilizer and seed corn from the kitchen table. The garage was his warehouse,” Wayne explained. “Back then, he and mom would unload entire semi loads of fertilizer by hand.”
In 1981, the family moved the business to Green Township, and in 1990, to its current location, the former Wilt turkey farm south of Canfield. When they switched locations, Gerald Greier paid to have his garage — the original warehouse — moved to the new site.
“Everyone thought he was crazy,” Wayne recalled. “But there were memories there.”
While keeping those memories intact, the elder Greier made changes each step of the way, his son explains.
When the business moved the first time, the family started offering chemicals to its customers. When they moved the second time, they added bulk fertilizer, and eventually bought a blender to offer custom blends.
During the most recent move into the new country store, the business expanded again. Pulling from Sara’s equine background and a growing demand from residential customers, the store began offering a full line of lawn, pond and gardening supplies, equine items, plus locally crafted greeting cards, rugs and photography.
“We want there to be something here for everyone,” Sara explained.
Two years ago, the younger Greiers began gearing up for what culminated in the grand opening of the new store in early April. The new store wasn’t just an excuse to offer bird feeders or horse treats, it was a result of upgrading facilities to meet farmers’ needs.
Growing demand for chemicals and fertilizers, plus environmental regulations, led the Greiers to convert an old truck garage into a state-of-the-art drive-through chemical facility.
The building’s design allows a semi to pull completely into the building to load or unload chemicals. Dikes around the perimeter keep any spills self-contained and let the Greiers know they’re doing all they can to protect their customers.
The change also allowed them to move all chemicals into that building, which freed up the 1930s turkey hatchery on the farm.
The original hatchery was resided and redecorated to become the new retail store. Wood framing and details were salvaged from the original building and house on the property.
The company has also grown from its original two-person team to now employ six full-time and two part-time employees. Diana Greier continues to help out when needed and her daughter, Chary Greier Hively, is employed in the store.
“It’s still very much family-oriented,” Sara explained.
Greier Ag Center also holds tightly to its roots in providing services first and foremost to farmers.
In addition to running the business, Wayne also farms 800-900 acres of his own crops.
That day-to-day “We’re farmers, too” attitude gives Greier Ag Center an extra leg up against the competition, Wayne believes.
“I’m subject to the prices and weather just like every other farmer. I know what they’re going through, and we talk about that stuff,” he said.
Their experience using products on the farm helps the couple make recommendations for their customers. If they don’t know an answer, they’ll find it, they say.
“We will take as much time as we need to make sure they’re getting the right product, and at the best price,” Wayne said. “And we use what we sell, so we can take them out to the field so they can see our own yields or results.”
“With our business, we like to be able to tell a customer that we use a product. We don’t necessarily say what we have is the best, but we show that it has worked for us.”
Those products include a full line of all major agronomic chemicals; The Anderson’s fertilizers; plus DEKALB, Schlessman, Mycogen and Asgrow seeds.
The Greiers, who manage a herd of beef cattle and a hobby herd of miniature horses, also stock a line of equine and fencing supplies.
At the end of every day, though, farmers’ needs and wants are still Greier Ag Center’s main priority.
“That’s where we started. We’ll always remember our roots,” Wayne said.