Hall Family Bagging Success
Through Service & Quality
Hall, a 1953 graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, and his wife, Bonnie, own and operate Farmers Feed Mill in Lexington, manufacturer of Hallway Feeds. Together with his son, Lee, and general manager Jeff Pendleton, Bob oversees production and distribution of high-quality custom feeds to farms and dealers across the United States, Great Britain, the Middle East, Japan, and Puerto Rico. Plans are in the works to market feed in Australia and New Zealand.
When we bought the mill in 1964, we had only two trucks and two employees, Bob said. Now we have seven trucks and nearly 30 employees. If you give people a quality product and good service and attitude, it makes it easier to maintain friendships.
Quality, service, and attitude are the energizing ingredients that give Farmers Feed Mill and Hallway Feeds a preeminent position in the feed industry. Those three words, which are printed proudly on a large sign mounted high above the mill floor, are part of a family success story with strong connections to UK agriculture.
The Early Years
Bob Hall was first introduced to the UK College of Agriculture through Kentuckys 4-H program. With no local club, he was a 4-Her at large, and showed livestock at the local, district, and state level. He loved every minute of it.
I didnt care whether I showed sheep or hogs or cattle as long as I had a good one and could win with it, Bob said. My sister, Emily, was the oldest, so she had the privilege of trucking me around to all the shows, and she took me wherever I needed to go.
One time while in 4-H, Bob got to see the UK livestock judging team in action. He was so impressed by what he saw he instantly knew what he wanted to do.
I wanted to be on that team! he said. Its the big thing that caused me to want to go to the UK ag college, and later, when I finally enrolled, it was my focal point the whole time I was in school.
Bob and his teammates made names for themselves. In 1951, the livestock team placed fourth at the national show in Chicago, the highest showing of any Kentucky team to that date. The following year Hall and his cohorts switched to become the meats judging team. In placing second, they again had the highest national showing of any Kentucky team to that date.
We never did get over the hurdle to win first place, but we were always pushing for it and never gave up, Bob said.
During his college days, several outstanding staff and faculty members had a positive impact on Bobs life and career.
I worked in the sheep barn with Harold Barber who, at the time, was the greatest shepherd in the United States, Bob said. And of course I knew Dr. (W. P.) Garrigus, and professor E.S. Good and Charlie Barnhart, and they all had a great influence on me.
According to Bob, he and his classmates did well in college not only because they wanted to, but because they had to. World War II veterans returning to school on the GI Bill pushed hard and set a high standard for classroom performance.
The vets put the heat on us every class we went to because they felt they had paid their dues and wanted to get out and get things done, and so we really gave it our best, Bob recalled.
Following graduation, Bob briefly managed an Angus operation near Bloomfield. Then, as he puts it, Uncle Sam gave him a two-year vacation in Germany. While overseas he worked as a military food inspector. The job gave him the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and see livestock shows. Upon returning to civilian life in 1958, Bob hired on as the purebred beef herdsman at UKs Coldstream Farm.
I went to work in February and I married Bonnie in August, Bob said. We started housekeeping together at Coldstream, and we have many good memories of that time.
In 1964 Bob and Bonnie made a decision that would change their lives. They bought a small feed mill on Price Avenue in Lexington from Herman Griggs. Up to that time, the only experience Bob had in packaging feed was when he bagged whole wheat flour and corn meal before the war to help his folks. Now mixing and packaging livestock feed would be his livelihood.
It was a big undertaking, but Mr. Griggs stayed on a while to teach us the business and we just kept calling on people and asking for their business and growing with it, Bob said.
The Company Today
When the Halls bought Farmers Feed Mill, it mostly served dairy farms. In fact, almost all the major central Kentucky dairies were customers. But as the years went by and more and more dairies disappeared, the mill changed with the market to meet customer needs.
Today were mostly horse feed, probably 75 to 80 percent, said Bob. We also make quite a bit of beef cattle feed, and also some specialty products such as rabbit feed, zoo feeds, and exotic animal feeds.
Products made at the mill carry the brand name Hallway Feeds
and are the preferred performance feed for many of the worlds most celebrated equine athletes.
Weve fed three of the last five Kentucky Derby winners, and a tremendous number of highly ranked horses, said Lee Hall, vice-president and 1983 graduate of the College of Agriculture. Weve been very lucky to get a lot of prominent trainers using our products, whether they are in New York, or California, or Kentucky.
With product names such as Race 13, Stamm 30, and Prep 14, Hallway Feeds has reached out during the past few years to establish markets internationally.
Our products are manufactured in several foreign countries and sold to trainers and breeders in those markets, said Lee. They are sold under the name of the local company, but supported by our reputation, technical expertise, and commitment to quality.
Even though they have expanded their business to serve overseas customers, the Halls continue to place a high priority on local sales and service.
Our bread and butter is still manufacturing the product and delivering it right to the farm or other end user, said Jeff Pendleton, general manager and 1985 graduate of the UK College of Agriculture. We serve Fayette and surrounding counties. Then on another level, we distribute product to dealerships regionally and nationally. Then we also make feed for other companies who have their own private label products.
Farmers Feed Mill is also the parent company to Incredipet, the central Kentucky pet store chain that began as Pet Pantry. Another Hall family member, daughter Julia Hall Mahan, is general manager (see Incredi-Marriage story on page 11). Both Incredipet and Hallway Feeds have succeeded over the years by putting the customer first.
Most of the time our competition is not going to take the time to build relationships, so its important that we do, said Julia Hall Mahan, who graduated from UK in 1986 as a hotel and restaurant management major.
Bob said he is proud of the degrees both his children earned from UK.
The educations Julia and Lee got at UK were broader than mine in that they included more business courses, said Bob. The management classes Julia had were very worthwhile.
Pride of Accomplishment
Part of the Hallway Feeds success story can be credited to the unique business and personal relationships forged over the years between Bob, Lee, and Jeff. All three are graduates of the UK College of Agriculture. All three were members of Alpha Gamma Rho. All three have been active in the College of Agriculture Alumni Association, and each has received the Outstanding Alumni Award.
Jeff is very production and administratively oriented, my strength lies in marketing, and Dads strength lies in overall experience in purchasing and in that wealth of experience that comes from years in the business, said Lee.
Although Lees major was agricultural economics, many of his classes were in animal sciences. Like his father before him, he found success as a member of UKs livestock judging team. After graduation he started working at the family mill delivering feed and waiting on customers. He also helped out on the familys 120-acre Scott County farm.
I spent as much time on the farm as I did at the mill, which was invaluable in terms of the experience I got making day-to-day decisions about the care of livestock, said Lee, who now spends a portion of the year traveling overseas to establish new markets for Hallway Feeds.
Im proud that weve been able to conduct a classy business, one that has a high level of esteem among our customers and our competitors, he said during a recent interview. Im proud of my dad and mom; my sister, Julia, and her business; and Im proud of Jeff. Im also proud of our production and delivery people. Many times Ive seen them start out as a new, inexperienced employee, and then over the years watch them become a valued part of the team who shares in the success of the company.
Lee Hall also said he is proud of people who have steadfastly purchased products from Farmers Feed Mill down through the years.
We see many of our customers who started out years ago with just a few mares now have large operations, which means theyve been growing and becoming more successful just like we have. And its our loyal customers who have given us the tools and the ability to remain successful, he said.
We bend over backwards to give good service to our customers, said Bob Hall. Its become a habit with us over the years, and its made all the difference.
When Bob Hall 53 was a boy in the 1940s, he helped his parents feed cattle, hogs, and lambs on their Scott County farm.
Today, more than five decades later, hes still feeding livestock all over the world.
Bob Hall 53, flanked by his son Lee 83 (left) and general manager Jeff Pendleton 85.