Demise of Best Farms Drive-Thru Feed Barn

I’m working on my résumé, trying to see how I can collapse my broad experience into a tasty nutshell for employers in this current competitive market. Doing so made me nostalgic for some of the jobs I have had in my distant past. Although I prefer constructing a big picture view, I have also had my share of ‘in the trenches’ work and have never been shy at getting my hands dirty when needed. One of the more physically demanding jobs I have had was when I was still in my early twenties. It was also a job where I worked for a boss who was perhaps one of the most honest men I have ever met.

For eighteen months I worked at the Best Farms Drive-Thru Feed Barn in Anderson, Indiana. Picture a warehouse structure, open at both ends. Skids of animal feed and water softener salt line either side of the barn. Vehicles drive in. We load the vehicles up with the required number of fifty pound bags of animal feed (or 80 pound bags of water softener salt). We take their money, make change, and they drive out. All day long. All year long. Hot in the summer. Freezing in the winter. You have not truly driven a fork truck until you’ve had to drive one up an ice-covered outdoor ramp.

We worked as a team. Boys being boys, we would try to outdo one another: I’ll take two bags of feed to the truck at one time; Well, then, I’ll take three bags; Well, then, I’ll… And somehow we made it through many a back-breaking day. We also sold hay and straw and would go with Gene Best out to his farm to load bales of both to bring back to the store. Hefting those dense SOBs is sure to give any city boy new found respect for farmer strength.

But the true strength of the Bests was their integrity. They loved their business and worked hard at it. They would go not only that extra mile, but add another one on top. They always kept a narrow profit margin, wanting the business to succeed but also wanting to ensure they were being fair to the customer. I looked them up to see how this “since 1989” Mom and Pop business was doing and discovered, much to my great sadness, they had been foreclosed on in 2008. Another victim of the current economic state.

In this current state of AIG bailouts and CEOs getting rewarded for bleeding funds from their companies, perhaps the Bests were simply too honest for their own good. Capitalism should not be a synonym for corruption, yet I see less and less entities taking more and more. I worry about not only finding a job, but finding a job with a company that is aware of its interdependence and wants to provide value not only to its customers but to its community at large. The bottom line is important, but how do we watch it without becoming blind?

One thought on “Demise of Best Farms Drive-Thru Feed Barn

  1. Tom

    It was sad driving by and noticing that the Feed Barn had closed– and it did make me recall back when you worked there. Almost innumerable places like that come and go every year without a lot of people even noticing, but they all come with their own stories that are important, at the very least, to those directly involved. I can remember a number of places that I noticed open up and thought I should go there, but by the time I think of it again, poof, it's gone. Onto the next dream, maybe, but you rarely know.

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