Century Corporation: The next generation
By Kris Leonhardt
Part five in a series
As the business was passed down to the next generation, Prince Koenig’s sons, John and Mike, took over the company and expanded Prince’s delivery area to nearly all of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
The company was later purchased by Jay Emling, John Silseth, and Dennis Wessel. Wessel had previously served as the company’s general manager.
“I am one of the owners – one of three owners. The other two owners – my partners – bought it with another gentleman in 1997 from the Koenigs. So, that family owned it until then,” explained Prince CEO Shaun Quinlan.
A second location was added in 1999 in Kingsbury, IN, and a third in 2013 in Teutopolis, IL.
Today, the company services an area that includes Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky as well.
Its longevity, Quinlan feels is due to the nature of the business they are in.
“It started with animal feeds. In this area, animals are very important and they have to be fed; so, regardless of whether it’s a world war, 911, or a pandemic, we are deemed an essential business. So that is the basis of it, and then we kind of expanded from there with other adjacent sorts of businesses – lawn and garden is a big part of our portfolio right now, probably almost 40 percent of our business,” he explained.
“Over the last couple of years, we could have been a restaurant and had to close down, but we were in a business where people wanted to work on their yards.
“Our slogan, because we do animal feeds, we do pet food, we do lawn care, we do bird seed; we say that we have everything you need for your breeds, feeds, seeds, and weeds.
“We are helping people nurture nature, so whatever that means to them… We like to think that we are helping people do something they love.
The company does not work with “Big Box” retail, but rather the small “Mom & Pop” stores, servicing 3,000 customers in a 10-state area in the Midwest.
“And supporting small businesses; that is really a huge part of our history. A lot of these small hardware stores and farm stores can’t buy without a distributor like us, where they can buy from all of these areas, combine their orders, and get a better deal than trying to go out and support buying something on their own. So, using a distributor is a critical piece of maintaining their small business; we’ve been able to provide that service all of these years,” added Prince Director of Manufacturing Christy Ogurek.