By CHRIS KICK
CRESTON, Ohio — When Don and Martha Walder opened W.G. Dairy supply in the mid-1960s, they did so with a vision that lasts to this day, more than four decades later.
“Working together, we service what we sell.”
It’s as simple as that, although carrying out such a mission is anything but simple. When things on the farm go wrong, as they sometimes do, the company’s 24-hour service is available seven days a week.
Martha Walder said much has changed since she and her husband began selling milking systems in the ’60s, adding the business has grown beyond what they had imagined.
“It’s kind of scary when you start out new and then it just takes a while to get your feet on the ground,” she said.
Firmly planted. With a wide range of services and growing, W.G.’s feet appear firmly planted.
Milk units of just about every size and style are sold, including the new robotic milkers manufactured by Lely. W.G. Dairy installed its first robotic milker this spring, at a dairy farm near Rittman. And they’re also selling automated calf feeders — improvements that reduce labor and increase efficiency.
“We’re in the business of providing solutions for our customers,” said Dean Stoller, Walder’s grandson and company salesman. “We want to be seen as the most reliable service company, and then also, the company that brings the most new technology and exciting ideas to the plate — all at the same time.”
Martha said they’re not looking to beat everyone out, concurring the competition is good competition. Instead, W.G. is concerned with the needs of its customers, serving a wide assortment of Amish and English operations.
“We don’t care about being first, we just care about taking care of the people,” she said.
W.G. also cares about its own people — all 26 employees — many who are family. Two daughters, one granddaughter and five grandsons work for the company, and there’s also many longtime non-family workers, Stoller said.
Two of the employees speak Dutch, which is useful when serving Dutch-speaking Amish customers, who make up an important part of the market.
New facility. This year is special for the company, which opened a second store in Minster, in Ohio’s Auglaize County. The store is not as extensive as the one in Creston, but offers the same dairy supply services to customers in western Ohio and eastern Indiana.
The past three years have been rough on the dairy industry — and they haven’t been easy on dairy suppliers. But Stoller said the company has found ways to work with dairymen, to help them be more efficient in these trying times.
“Instead of looking for products, they’re (customers) coming to us looking for solutions … to increase their bottom lines,” he said.
The robotic milker may be a costly initial investment, but it pays for itself over time through increased yield per cow, and reduced labor expenses. The automated feeders help farmers provide the best quality feeding measures to get calves started right.
In addition to being a BouMatic and Lely dealer, the company also sells and installs covered buildings, fans and cooling systems, sanitation supplies and comfort features for livestock.
W.G.’s Creston store has a large retail space, where hardware, medical, dairy and general equipment supplies are all sold. The company serves nearly all of the state, and in rural Ohio, it’s a common sight to see a W.G. utility truck en route to a farm, or parked near a farmer’s barn.
In the end, it all comes back to the beginning for Martha, who has managed the business since her husband’s death in 1998.
“We service what we sell,” she repeats. “If it wouldn’t be for our service, we wouldn’t be here.”
To reach W.G. Dairy Supply, call 800-821-3952, or visit them online at www.wgdairysupply.com.