President Rod introduced today’s speaker, John Islay, a native of Marion, Ohio, married with two young children, a graduate from OSU, served in the Military Police, and is employed as store manager for the last year at the new Family Farm & Home (FFH) store in the plaza on South Main street formerly occupied by Country Market. His family, he said was not related to the Blissfield Isley’s since they originated from England and his family is from the German side of the Swiss Alps plus they spell their name with an “e” and he with an “a”.
John said that FFH is a Michigan-based company with their corporate office in Muskegon, Michigan. Up to 60% of their vendors are established in this state. The company was founded in 2002 one year prior to Quality Farm & Fleet north of town who had merged with Central Tractor in 1999 went out of business because, John said, these two companies never meshed. Tractor Supply then bought not the company but the real estate – 160 parcels to be exact. FFH’s current president happened to be a VP with this other company. He took his own money in 2002 and started Family Farm & Home. Incidentally, John spent 18 years with Tractor Supply and towards the end, he said, “it wasn’t fun anymore”.
The first FFH building was in Coldwater. They now have 40 stores in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana and are growing at a rate of 8-10 new stores per year. Two of those stores are slated for development in Michigan. FFH is a niche retailer – that is, they tailor what they sell to those who live in rural areas, John said. The store in Adrian is a 20,000 square foot building. They currently employ 17 people and sales continue to grow.
FFH, he said, carries a wide variety of products in one location unlike their competitors. On display at their stores are hardware, nuts and bolts, paint, brand named products, generators (Ford and Westinghouse), pressure washers, automotive parts and equipment, Reese hitches, batteries, appliances, Ag-related products, animal feed and bedding, pet supplies and food, clothing, footwear, etc. FFH has an alignment, he said, with Tru Value which supply the entire right side of their store.  FFH also has a lawn and garden and seasonal department complete with Husqvarna tractors and chainsaws. Snapper is another brand name sold there. Unique items include such things as Gorilla Tape, Anti-Monkey Butt Powder, Chicken Coop Lip Balm, etc. All great stocking stuffers for your families at Christmas, Rod said!
John said that his ancestors owned Islay Dairy located in central Ohio. In 1942 his family created the Klondike bar! The organization generally supports kids that are active in FFA and 4-H. This past year at the Lenawee County Fair, John said, FFH bought four animals, supplied all the feed for the rabbit farms, and donated a fan to the sheep barn. FFH, in partner with the Fair Board sponsored the grand champion showmanship belt buckle.