Hendricks Feed was founded in 1929 by Albert M. Hendricks, the father of Earl and Bill Sr.
Albert Hendricks had been farming prior to starting the business. He lost his farm in the Great Depression and he decided to start a feed store. He borrowed some money on an insurance policy and sold “shares” to farmers at $5.00 each to raise capital to launch the business. In exchange for these “shares” the “shareholders” received 15 cents/cwt. discount on all feed purchases. The original name of the business was “Farmers Mill and Feed Co.”.
Earl and Bill Sr. entered a partnership with their father in 1945 and in 1952 Albert bowed out and Earl and Bill Sr. continued their partnership up to 1980. Bill Sr. bought out Earl in 1980 and operated as a sole proprietor until 1988 when he sold the business to his son, Bill Jr., who is now the third generation to run the business.
The original location was the current intersection of the Julien Dubuque bridge at Highways 20 & 61. The second location was in the 600 block of Central Avenue. The feed store has been located at 880 Central Avenue, in Dubuque, Iowa, since 1942. The building at 880 Central Avenue was built in 1889 and is a fixture in historic downtown Dubuque, only blocks away from the city’s riverfront projects and Millwork District. We remolded in 2014 with a whole new storefront that makes the customer feel right at home. Bringing back the old wood floors and brick walls to their pristine condition from the old days.
Hendricks Feed & Seed in Dubuque, IA: The Early Days
Feed during the 1930’s was tankage, oilmeal, midds, bran, red dog and hominy. The feed business was all byproducts at that time. A substantial part of the early business was grinding. Farmers brought their grain in their wagons and the feed was ground, bagged and tied. Some ingredients and a branded feed named “Cutcost” was blended in at times. Bran was selling for $13.00 a ton (current price:$400.00 a ton). A product called Quaker VIM, which was a mix of oat hulls and molasses, was selling for $9.00 a ton. In the 1930’s, annual tonnage of 100-200 tons was considered good. It is not unusual to move 100-200 tons in a week now.
The first branded feed was Murphy’s Cutcost, then Full-O-Pep, Larro and whatever they could get their hands on during World War ll. “Hendricks Best” was a feed manufactured at the feed store and remained a staple during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Hendricks began selling Kent Feeds in 1946 and became an exclusive Kent Feed dealer in the 1960’s and remains exclusive to the Kent Feed brand to this day. Hendricks is oldest Kent Feeds dealership in the USA.
Product lines have changed significantly over the years. Fertilizer is now a large segment of the business. Diversification has meant adding product lines such as landscaping products, lawn seed, deicers, bird seeds, bird feeders, pet foods, seed corn, alfalfa seed, and chemicals.