Three generations of Agri-Enterprises

                                                                                                                                Photo by Shari Harris
Three generations of Giffords operate Agri-Enterprises. From left, in front: Lauren Gifford and Robert Gifford; in back: Evan Gifford, Carrie Gifford and Sam Gifford.
By Shari Harris
Co-Publisher

Since its beginning in 1990, Agri-Enterprises has undergone many changes to become the multi-faceted business it is today. Mike Klotz started with a fertilizer company on the south end of the current location, and used what is now the main office as a shop building. Sam Gifford worked for Klotz and his father, Robert Gifford, had spreader trucks and hauled fertilizer. In 1993, the Giffords purchased the fertilizer business and Agri-Enterprises Fertilizer, LLC was begun. Robert Gifford remembers he had just begun doing conference work for the Missouri Baptist Evangelism Department, and needed a way to support himself.
On September 1, 1997, the Giffords bought the other buildings and the land at the current location and added Agri-Enterprises Farm Equipment, offering mechanic work, parts and short-line farm equipment. When Klotz’s John Deere dealership shut down after a fire, the Giffords saw the need for a tractor dealership, and in 1999, they began selling Mahindra tractors. Valtra tractors and equipment were added in 2000, with the brand morphing into Hesston and Massey Ferguson in 2003.
When Farm and Town closed in 2003, Agri-Enterprises Farm Equipment bought out their stock and became a Stihl outdoor power equipment dealership. They started dealing Hustler lawn equipment more than 15 years ago; the Hustler zero-turn-radius mowers are very popular items. Also about that time they built a new shop building and added another business, Gifford Farms Trucking. Between Agri-Enterprises Farm Equipment, Agri-Enterprises Fertilizer, Gifford Farms Trucking and Gifford Farms (they have two farms in the area), they have a crew of 16 to 18 people working full or part-time. Robert and Sam Gifford are joined by other family members, who are also a large part of the success of the business. Sam’s wife, Carrie Gifford, manages the office and their daughter and son, Lauren and Evan, are very involved. Younger children Josie and Layney help out as well. Les Thoroughman is a familiar face at the counter; if you need parts, he’s your man. Karen Douglas helps keep the office running smooth.
Over the past three decades, the Giffords have watched for changes to keep up with the needs of the community. You can find fertilizer, tractors, farm equipment, chainsaws, weed eaters, blowers and ZTR mowers at Agri-Enterprises. They sell gates, panels, hay rings, and parts, from nuts and bolts to chainsaw chains and hydraulic hoses. If Agri-Enterprises doesn’t have your chain or hose, they can make chains to the length you need and hydraulic hoses up to two inches in diameter. They offer a full-service shop and don’t forget, Gifford Farms Trucking offers regional trucking.
Perhaps just as importantly, they try to offer good customer service. As local businesses, they strive to support other local businesses. While watching for changing needs of their community, they also look for ways to give back to the community that has supported them.
 “I want to say a special thank you to Sam, Lauren, Carrie and all the employees for the way they’ve stepped up in my absence,” says Robert Gifford, who has been recovering from a spinal cord injury suffered last year. He continues to devote most of his time to his ministry and to his physical rehabilitation, but is returning every weekend when he catches up on the businesses.
If you would like to see what they have to offer, stop by the main office at 11929 South Highway 63, one and one-half miles south of Licking. Or you can reach them at 573-674-2203, 1-800-653-7152 or online at www.agri-enterprises.com. They are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon.

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