Rooted in Eastern Ontario history: Local farm business celebrates 60 years of service.
WINCHESTER, ON, This month marks the 60th anniversary celebration of a staple in the Eastern Ontario agricultural industry, Weagant Farm Supplies. With three stores across the region - two in the Winchester area, one just outside Brockville – Weagant Farm Supplies invites the community to the anniversary celebrations this Friday, August 23.
The late Fred Weagant started the business by opening a Cockshutt dealership in South Mountain, Ontario, in 1953. He and his wife, Anita, both worked in the business throughout the years and through many changes in the industry, including the sale of Cockshutt and Oliver Companies to the White Motor Company in the 1960s. In 1980, following a series of industry buyouts, Weagant Farm Supplies became a Fiat tractor dealership under the Hesston brand name. Finally, when Fiat bought out Ford-New Holland in 1993, Weagant Farm Supplies conducted business under the New Holland flag and still does today.
During this active period of mergers and acquisitions, not only did the Weagants manage to conduct business effectively, but they expanded and became more versatile. Fred and Anita’s eldest son, Bob, joined the dealership in 1970, followed by their son-in-law, Dave Black, in 1974. In 1976, the company built a new facility on County Road 43, Winchester. This store housed the White Farm Equipment line while the New Holland line continued in South Mountain under the direction of Dave Black until 1988, when the South Mountain business operations merged into the Winchester facility.
Laird Weagant, Fred and Anita’s second son, joined the business in 1980. Weagant Farm Supplies expanded again, opening a dealership in Brockville in 1983 that carries Kubota, Kawasaki, and several short lines. Topline Trailer & Equipment, which opened in 1993 south of Vernon, also carries Kubota and has a full complement of trailers.
Bob Weagant, Laird Weagant and Dave Black, are the second generation owners of Weagant Farm Supplies. Both Bob and Laird are still very involved in the everyday operation of the business while Dave celebrated his retirement five years ago. Third generation owners are also part of this successful business: Stacey Weagant, Human Resources and Finance; Julie Baker, Office Manager; and Scott Weagant, Manager of Topline Trailer & Equipment.
Rooted in their rural surroundings, the business owners believe in supporting their community. To this end, Weagant Farm Supplies donates bursaries to local students, supports local trade shows and fairs, local hospitals, Canadian Club, Upper Canada Playhouse, local 4-H clubs, the Cattlemen’s Associations in the area, Junior Farmers, Heart and Stroke Foundation and a multitude of other farm related organizations and events. The Brockville store offered its facilities as the depot for distribution of generators by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs during the 1998 ice storm and was involved in the Hay West Movement a few years ago, providing both tractors and manpower to load the hay onto railway cars.
Weagant Farm Supplies has consistently supported the Canada East Equipment Dealers’ Association and was one of the founding members of Farm Fleet. They send out their own publication, “Farmfest News,” to some 22,000 rural route customers between Belleville and Ottawa and the Quebec border.
Weagant Farm Supplies currently employs 67 people in its three locations and believes the company’s strength is in its employees. Many employees have worked for the company over 25 years – Ault VanBokhorst (38 years), Elwood Giroux (32 years), Joe Vasey (30 years). Beth Winters, Pat Byvelds, Dale Countryman and Gary VanHoof have all been with Weagant Farm Supplies for 28 years.
The company owners are hosting an anniversary celebration on Friday, August 23, 2 p.m., at the flagship store in Winchester, 11250 County Road 43. All customers and members of the community are invited to drop in, have a piece of cake, and celebrate the occasion. Invitations have been extended to the local dignitaries from the Counties of North & South Dundas as well as Leeds & Grenville, and to the company’s supplier representatives.
For more information visit the Weagant Farm Supplies website at http://www.weagantfarm.com