Changing with the times..

Mt. Nebo Agway manager Curt Whelpley (right) and his father, Chet Whelpley, who began the family business 25 years ago. The new store is specially designed to meet the needs of the more urban and suburban “farmers.” Photo by Connie Rankin for The Citizen

Perhaps the key to successful longevity for any business is recognizing the changing needs of its customers and moving to meet them. And understanding that concept could be why the Whelpley family is celebrating two momentous business events this year: the 25th anniversary of its original Agway store in Beaver, and the opening of its sixth store in Ohio Township.

Originally formed as a cooperative agricultural supply company to serve farmers in the northeastern United States, Agway has evolved into independently owned stores that successfully straddle the line between the business of farming and the more hobby-oriented efforts of suburbia.

For instance, the new Agway store on Mt. Nebo -- housed in the former Mt. Nebo Grange building on McAleer Road -- can handle large orders of animal feed as well as supply people who just want to feed songbirds in their backyards.

Store manager Curt Whelpley -- son of company founder Chet Whelpley, points out that the new store accommodates the more urban and suburban "farmer," who may have a handful of chickens and a vegetable garden. For them, the Agway store provides a reliable supply of some hard to find items -- such as chicken and horse feed -- as well as organic lawn and garden products that are sought by the environmentally-conscious grower.

The Mt. Nebo Agway also carries about 30 different kinds of dog food you're unlikely to find in big box stores, a notable shift in inventory from the couple brands offered when the first area Agway opened 25 years ago.

Although not a nursery, Curt says that the local store sells a few plants, unique insect and weed killers, and bags of mulch and garden soil, all offered by people who are knowledgeable about the products.

The Mt. Nebo Agway is located at 125 McAleer Rd. in Ohio Township.

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