MOUNT VERNON — A lagging customer base has led the Central Ohio Farmers Co-op to shut down its feed mill operation on Kinney Road. The mill closed its doors on May 15.
Based in Marion, the co-op has numerous grain, feed, agronomy and wholesale fuel operations in Marion, Crawford, Delaware, Morrow and Knox counties. The local mill was operated by the Mount Vernon Farmers Exchange until 2000, when it merged with Marion Landmark to form the Central Ohio Farmers Co-op.
Farmers Co-op President and CEO Tom Bostic said that the decision to close the mill was made jointly between local management and the company’s headquarters, and that no jobs have been eliminated. There were two employees at the mill, one of whom recently left to take a different job. The other employee is being reassigned.
“Our customer base for the mill had diminished and diminished over the past several years and it wasn’t sustainable any longer,” Bostic said. “We just weren’t grinding enough feed to keep up with maintaining the facility, equipment and delivery costs.”
Bostic said that the co-op will almost certainly retain ownership of the Kinney Road property, which it uses for storage of liquid fertilizers and grain. He also said that if any equipment is moved from the site it will likely stay within the company.
Closing the mill does not directly affect the Mount Vernon Farmers Exchange seed store and drive-thru on West Gambier Street or the co-op owned Hollis Oil fuel operation on Tilden Avenue. In fact, Bostic anticipates expanding the product line and drive-thru operations on West Vine Street to pick up some of the slack from the mill’s closure.
“Some of the business will perhaps go to our Mount Gilead branch, and some will go to our competitors,” Bostic said. “We hope that some customers will go to bagged seed, and we will also try to do some direct selling.”