In 1974, Ed and Rita Linseisen bought a local feed dealership and hardware store in Bellville, Texas and turned it into what is now Linseisen’s Feed and Supply. Ed knew how to sell feed and farm supplies thanks to his upbringing on a family farm. What he has struggled with, though, is keeping up with the ever-changing market. Fortunately, that’s where his son Keith comes in. Today, this father-son team still runs the family feed store, but they’re not afraid to make a few changes along the way.
Early on, Ed and Rita remained focused on selling cattle feed to the nearby family farms and ranches. They turned their store into a success, but not without their fair share of challenges. One month into their ownership, cattle prices dropped drastically, making the market for feed all the more competitive. “Money got tight for cattlemen, and us, in a hurry,” Ed says. “Ultimately, what got us through those first tough years was hard work and loyal customers who stuck with us.”
Ed and Rita’s son Keith, who was just 7 years old when the store opened, worked in the family business throughout high school and after college. When he and his wife Becky finally took over the business themselves, Keith kept those loyal customers in mind. “It’s hard to know when to make changes to keep up with the times, but if you pay attention to what customers are asking for, you’ll know,” says Keith. “It’s a benefit of being an independent business: You can tailor your merchandise and services to the needs of your customers.”
With the guidance of his customers, Keith transformed his father’s feed business into a one-stop retail destination for all things related to country living. Linseisen’s still sells feed for all types of farm animals, but now you’ll also find STIHL equipment, bottled water, scented candles and even dog clothes on the shelves.
While making these changes, Ed and Keith continued to focus on the people of Bellville and the local community. “We make every effort to make both personal and business purchases locally,” Keith says. “Whenever possible, we buy products for resale from local vendors, as well, such as most of our plants, Cat Spring Candles and many gift items.”
The family is celebrating 40 years in business this year, but they’re already looking toward the future. Ed and Keith agree that they’ve made it this far thanks to good, hardworking people – as both employees and customers. Although they’ll always be expanding their product selection, they don’t anticipate much else to change in the future. “I look forward to meeting and making friendships with newcomers as they join our community, while being thankful for the relationships we’ve forged over the years with long-time customers,” Keith says. “The customers are the reason we’re here – and hopefully we’re here for many more years to come.”
At 74, Ed is in semi-retirement, but comes in daily to work on STIHL equipment, which is repaired in-house. Keith works alongside him, still learning from his dad every day. And while the first and second generations of Linseisen’s owners work inside, the third generation is not far away. Keith and Becky’s sons often play ball outside the store when they’re not at school. With a hardworking family and a hardworking community supporting it, Linseisen’s Feed and Supply is sure to outlast even this youngest generation.
For more information about Linseisen’s, visit www.linseisensfeed.com.