Bulloch Fertilizer Company will celebrate an impressive milestone this week - its 50th year in business. Founded in 1963 by Bill Mikell, John Cobb and Raybon Anderson, Bulloch Fertilizer was created in conjunction with a sister company East Georgia Liquid Feed Service.
Anderson served as the managing partner, and liquid nitrogen and liquid feed were the main items offered for sale. First year sales were approximately $100,000.
Anderson said at the time the company opened, competition was plentiful with 12 companies offering fertilizer and farm supplies in the area.
"Initially, we had one full-time employee: Frank Smith," he said. "There were two part-time employees, and my wife Janelle answered the phone for no pay at home. In year two, we added bagged fertilizer and seed for sale. We also purchased a new mixing plant where liquid fertilizer was mixed. It was the first of its kind in the southeastern United States."
By the company's 10th anniversary, it had grown to 16 employees with a large fleet of trucks and vastly increased storage.
"By this time, we were offering seeds, fertilizer, farm chemicals, feeds, farm hardware, limestone, and other supplies farmers needed," Anderson said. "In 1974, Ralph Lawhorn, Everett McBride and myself formed Georgia Agricultural Chemical in Swainsboro to focus on the agricultural chemical supply side of the business. In 1982, United Agriproducts purchased the company, and it is still in business today."
Anderson bought the business outright in 1975 from Cobb. Mikell had passed away three years prior. "We had also purchased Statesboro Farm Supply, and moved the retail store to 201 West Main Street," he said.
In 1985, Anderson's son-in-law Dr. Stan Lee joined the company, and in 1987 the Westside Vet Clinic was opened next to the retail store. Anderson's son Mike Anderson joined the company in 1988 after graduating from the University of Georgia.
"The last 25 years have been challenging, but my dad has been real good about giving me room to grow," Mike Anderson said. "He has been very supportive, and overall, it has been really rewarding. I think some of what we have done to grow the company has been my idea, and dad has let me do that."
Mike Anderson said he encouraged his father to get into the golf and turf markets.
"In the late 1980s, we began applying fertilizer on golf courses and on turf farms," he said. "We also expanded the plant to include a bagging operation to bag fertilizer. I don't know that dad would have gotten into that end of the business at his age if I hadn't really wanted to do it."
Westside Vet came under Lee's sole ownership in 1991, and he sold his interest in Bulloch Fertilizer to the Andersons at that time. In 1993, a new business office was constructed on West Main Street, and in 2004 the Andersons decided to relocate their retail operation to Highway 80 East. The decision was made to call the new store Anderson's General Store.
"Purina came out with a program called their premier stores, and one thing led to another, and we decided to open one of our own," Mike Anderson said.
He said there are 15 employees at the fertilizer plant and 23 at the general store. Mike Anderson serves as the company's president, and Raybon Anderson continues as chairman of the board.
The Andersons are holding a reception in honor of the company's 50th anniversary on Friday at the company's West Main office.
"We would love to have our customers and friends stop by, visit and help us reminisce about the last 50 years," Mike Anderson said. "I would like to thank my mom and dad for all of the sacrifices that they made in the early days to make it possible for us to celebrate our 50th anniversary."