By Per Peterson
Ken and Colleen Schiller have long appreciated the community of Tracy for its support, and stepping away from a business that has been a major part of their lives for decades, they agree, won’t be easy.
Indeed, the sale of Midwest Supply to Dale Johnson III signals the end of an important era in Tracy’s retail history.
Ken came to Tracy in 1974 from Sanborn as an ag teacher, where he worked with high schoolers and adults in the ag field. He served in that role until 1977 before heading to Marshall to work for Production Credit Association, which was part of what is now known as the Farm Credit System.
When Dave Abernethy retired from Tracy State Bank in Tracy in 1984, Schiller came back to town to serve as vice president there for almost nine years before starting his new venture on the highway. Schiller was in charge of farm and commercial lending at the bank.
At that time, brothers-in-law Milt Schroeder and Earl DeVine, who built the first Midwest Supply store in Slayton in 1965, were also running the Tracy location after building the store in 1972. Schiller’s time in the banking industry in the 1980s was anything but easy, as the country was in the midst of the farm crisis, so he began to think outside-the-box on what he could do next.
“I just mentioned (taking over Midwest Supply) one day to Earl in ’92, and it took us a whole year … I had to keep it secret, because I didn’t want my president to know what I was thinking about doing,” Schiller said.
Schiller and his partner, Myron Trulock, have kept the two locations going ever since.
“I knew that (Schroeder and DeVine) were looking at selling, because they were getting up there in age,” Schiller said. “I knew I couldn’t farm, because my dad didn’t have any land, so I thought this was the next best thing to agriculture.”
See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.