IRONWOOD — After 20 years in business, Joe and Beverly Rohde are closing the Range Flour and Feed on May 24. The business has had a presence in Ironwood since 1921.
When the Rohdes took over the business, they had five or six bags of grains and four fish tanks, and they built the business up on their own. At one point they were processing 450 tons of corn a year and they bagged it all themselves. They also had up to 40 aquariums of fish at a time, as well as reptiles, birds, hedgehogs, and other small animals, until the past couple weeks.
Regulations have changed on deer baiting over the years, and the production of ethanol has been keeping the price of corn up, Rohde said.
“What we sell today is not a necessity. When times are good, people raise dogs, cows, and other animals. When the economy goes down, they stop doing that,” said Rohde.
Rhode reminisced about his first year in business. A man came in from out of town and was a dollar short on his purchase. Rhode let him go on with his purchase, and a year later he came back and paid off his bill.
“Two weeks ago, I sold a large birdcage to a lady who put half the money down. I didn’t even get her name. Today she came back in and paid her balance,” Rhode said. It all comes down to treating people the way you want to be treated, Rhode said.
Rhode is looking forward to a week’s vacation before starting a part time job at Midland in Hurley. He will be working 25 hours a week instead of 60, and hopes that many of his customers and friends he has met while in business will follow him there. “I will miss the friends I’ve met the most.” Rhode said.
Rhode and his wife raise beef cattle every year. This year they have five. They are looking forward to spending more time together and with their grandkids, Rhode said.