ERIN – Sharpe Farm Supplies Ltd. has expanded farther east into Wellington County with the purchase of Budson Farm and Feed Company in Erin.
Sharpe officially took over Budson’s 93 Main Street location on May 1 after conversations about buying the business out from Alf Budweth began around a year ago.
Speaking to the Advertiser by phone recently, Sharpe Farm Supplies president Paul Sharpe said the company’s newest location was a logical next move as Sharpe continues to grow.
Headquartered in Guelph, Sharpe has nine additional store locations across the province, including one in Fergus, with a large presence in the equine nutrition market.
“It fits well with our retail and our equine nutrition presence,” Sharpe said of the Erin location.
Sharpe Farm Supplies’ key markets are in animal feed, grain and agronomy, and the Erin store’s major revenue generators in past years — first as Peel Seed, then Budson Farm and Feed — are equine nutrition, pet food, bird seed, and farm supplies.
“To be honest, we’re not going to change much,” Sharpe said. “They had a great customer following; they had a great brand.”
Budweth, who operates Nobleton Feed Mill with his brother Dave Budweth, told the Advertiser several offers on the business were turned down in the past three or four years.
“As timing goes, a number of things lined up,” Budweth said.
Notably, senior staff were retiring, the pandemic had made running the business from afar overly complex, and construction related to a new town wastewater treatment plant was coming to Main Street.
Budweth also noted his age, saying that at 54 years old, he couldn’t see growing the business more by the time he turns 60.
“We took it as far as we could, effectively and profitably,” Budweth said.
“I would have liked to have seen it grow even more,” he remarked before explaining that larger companies would out compete him not only on price, but with “efficiencies” too, such as Sharpe’s central distribution centre in Guelph.
“I wasn’t going to be as competitive as … any of the ones that are locally around us in terms of … infrastructure and trucking that I couldn’t compete with.”
The business could have accepted more credit and reduced profit margin, Budweth said, but in the end those decisions simply wouldn’t make good business sense.
“Could I have doubled [business] again?” he asked rhetorically. “Doubtful.”
The company’s 17-year run was a good one, he said.
Budweth added it “makes sense” for Sharpe to take over the business
“He will be one of the biggest players in Ontario in terms of feed distribution; he’ll be a force to be reckoned with,” Budweth said.
“These guys are just buying out all over the place … they’re doing some really great stuff and the community should be embracing it.”
The Budweth brothers are focusing on their global zoo feed business and Nobleton Feed Mill, a short jog east of Bolton.
“As much as I don’t live in the community; I don’t have a business in the community, I’m actually still there doing stuff,” Budweth said, adding he will continue to be involved with the Erin Agricultural Society and its fall fair.
Sharpe assured he will carry on what he called the “legacy of Budson’s.”
“Budsons was a great supporter of the local community of Erin, they were a big supporter of their fall fair, a big supporter of their Erin Horse Day, so we plan on carrying on the level of support that they did,” Sharpe said.
Most of Budson’s front-line staff remain and are now sporting Sharpe-branded attire.
In the months ahead, Sharpe said replacement of the exterior store sign will complete the rebranding, retiring the Budson name for good.
There are also plans for a “grand reopening” later this summer, but details have yet to be finalized.