‘Not just a feed store’ for 60 years

HARLAN —  For 60 years, Nelson Farm Supply has been “Not just a feed store, but a whole lot more” for Harlan and the surrounding area.
“We sold bulk and bag feed when we started,” Joel Berndt said. “Now it’s turned into a little of everything.”
It’s the little of everything that has made the agricultural service company one of Shelby County’s longest lasting family owned businesses. It has grown into a variety store, offering machinery sales and repair, grill sales, dog and cat food, outdoor power equipment, grain storage, drying and grinding, and bag feed.
It began as a feed store when Lloyd Nelson purchased Brodersen Feed and Seed in 1964. That following year, Harold Lansman was hired as an outside salesman, and he bought the business in 1969. Due to health issues, Nelson left the business in the late 1970’s, and Berndt joined the staff in 1980, followed by Harold’s son, Howard, in 1996. Joel’s son, Todd came on board  in 2007. Howard Lansman and the Berndts are now co-owners.
“We gradually expanded to add equipment, such as grinders and mixers,” Berndt said. “Then we added feed wagons and just about anything related to agriculture.” In 2014, they purchased Mow-n-Snow in dowtown Harlan, and started the lawn mower and snow blower side of the business, which  also includes outdoor power tools.
The company moved to it’s current location just east of Harlan on Highway 44, previously owned by Harlan Builders, 10 years ago.
“The business has changed  lot,” Joel said. “It takes a lot more money. Customers have gotten bigger, with bigger operations.”
Joel said years ago, the majority of customers were within a 10 mile radius. “Now we are going  up to 30 miles to deliver feed, with a 30-50 mile radius for equipment services.
One thing hasn’t changed, and that is the company’s commitment to be a family-owned operation. There are currently 10 full-time, and several part-time employees. “We have had a lot of family members working here throughout the years,” Joel said.
“My wife works here, my son works here, my father-in-law used to work here. We’ve got the Christensen brothers working here. We’re just one big happy family out here.”
Denny Conrad, the business’s longest tenured employee, started working when he was in high school, 52 years ago. “We’ve had  several people retire from here,” Joel said. The company’s average employment is over 13 years, a fact Joel is very proud of.
“We keep providing both jobs and services to the community,” he said.
Nelson Farm Supply purchased the adjacent Remington seed building, and Joel said eventually, the feed mill will be moved over there from its current location on Chatburn Ave.
“That’s the goal,” he said. “It just takes time and money.”
Joel said their longevity is based on good customer service. “If you can’t take care of your customers, you just can’t have a business.”



Harlan Newspapers

1114 7th Street
P.O. Box 721
Harlan, IA 51537-0721

(800) 909-6397

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