100 Years in the Agricultural Business
On June 7th, 1929, Frank H. Johnson, William E. DeLong, and Jesse DeLong purchased the G.W. Irish feed mill in Clinton, Wisconsin. The partnership, known as Johnson & DeLong, thus began doing business in Clinton. The partnership, along with John B. Johnson, previously had been in the grain and feed business in Darien, Wisconsin since 1913 and prior to that in Avalon, Wisconsin.
William DeLong, Jr. (son of William E. DeLong), who had been sales manager for Sterling Oil Co. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and started his own lube oil business, moved to Clinton in 1929 to manage the Clinton Feed Mill for Johnson and DeLong. The old mill was moved south to the C & NW railroad tracks and a new combination grain elevator and feed mill was constructed on the site of the old mill (southwest corner of Front St. and Durand St.). At the time of construction, this was the largest elevator/feed mill combination structure in the state of Wisconsin.
Frank H. Johnson deceased September 18, 1932 and in the settlement of his estate, William E. DeLong and Jesse DeLong purchased the Clinton feed mill on April 7th, 1933 and sold their interest in the Avalon mill to the estate. At this time, William DeLong, Jr. also became a partner with his father and uncle and the company name was changed to The DeLong Co.
The principal crops grown in the area were hay, wheat, oats, barley, and corn. For many years during the thirties, The DeLong Co. was the largest shipper of malting barley in the state of Wisconsin. Most of the malting barley went to the various malt houses and brewers located in Chicago, Milwaukee, and throughout Wisconsin. Another large cash crop of the era was hay, which was shipped by boxcar to Chicago and eastern points.
The feed business consisted mostly of grinding grists brought to the mill by area farmers. Salt and mineral were added at the mill as well as numerous bulky feed by-products such as wheat bran, malt sprouts, and beet pulp. The main source of protein added was linseed oil meal.
Also, in the thirties, Bowman Dairy Co. added a dried milk process to their milk receiving plant at Clinton. The DeLong Co. had a contract to take all the production of Bowman's Clinton plant. As this technology developed, the demand skyrocketed and the Bowman Dairy Co. plant at Clinton could not produce the quantity that The DeLong Co. could sell. As many new production plants were being added by Bowman Dairy Co. and other producers, Bowman Dairy Co. desired to market the production of all its plants. The DeLong Co. sold the marketing contract back to Bowman Dairy Co. and withdrew from the dried milk business.
In the thirties, The DeLong Co. purchased wool from producers. They also cleaned a variety of seed such as clover and timothy as well as handled coal, the principal heating fuel of the time.
The DeLong Co. (Petroleum Products) continued to market lube oil through farm equipment dealers in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois under the StaCool and Jay-Dee brand names. The plant was in Chicago but the office was in Clinton where Florabelle DeLong, William DeLong, Jr.'s wife, was in charge.
World War II came and the direction of the The DeLong Co. changed dramatically. All products were in short supply as well as many being rationed. Looking at the shortage of wheat during World War I, the government encouraged production of wheat which soon became a surplus commodity and was sold back to farmers at a discount price if fed to livestock and not used for human consumption. So abundant was the supply of flour under government regulation that feed millers such as The DeLong Co. were required to purchases a quantity of flour in order to purchase the wheat bran by-product.
Many commodities, such as coal, were placed on a quota system and each dealer could receive only a percentage of their past purchases.
Crude oil production was completely taken over by the government and The DeLong Co. could produce only petroleum products used by the government.
The end of World War II saw another shift in agriculture and The DeLong Co. again moved to fill those needs of the farmers. Corn became the dominant cash crop in the area and feed concentrates specially formulated for various type of livestock began to be more popular as their efficiency in production became much more evident.
In 1948, The DeLong Co. constructed a new manufacturing facility on the former C & NW stockyards location and entered the feed manufacturing and wholesale feed distribution business. The company presently serves over 500 dealers in three states with various products which are either manufactured by the company or distributed by the company for other manufacturers.
In 1950, a small "shipping" elevator was constructed. In addition, corn drying facilities were added to handle wet corn purchased from area farms. The only drying facilities were at terminal elevators in Chicago or Milwaukee. Increased production in the area required drying to be accomplished prior to shipment to the terminal elevators as the railroads would no longer give priority service for wet corn shipped to the terminal elevators.
In the spring of 1951, William E. DeLong and Jesse DeLong passed away April 10th and April 29th, respectively. A new partnership, consisting of William DeLong, Jr., his wife Florabelle DeLong, and their sons, William B. DeLong and Delmar E. DeLong was formed.
During the fifties, the feed, fertilizer and grain business of the company continued to expand. A corn storage building was added in 1957 located between the "shipping" elevator and the feed manufacturing facility with an 85,000 bushel storage capacity which raised the total grain storage capacity of the company to 130,000 bushel.
An undated photo of The DeLong Co.
In 1961, the company leased the former Bowman Dairy Co. plant for its wholesale feed distribution warehouse.
Commercial fertilizer sales had grown tremendously since World War II as crop production in the area increased. The DeLong Co. introduced liquid fertilizer in 1957, the first in the State of Wisconsin to do so. As this business grew, a new liquid fertilizer manufacturing plant was built in 1965 located directly south of the intersection of Durand St. and Front St.
In 1966, the company lost it's lease on the former Bowman Dairy Co. plant and it was sold to a pump company and the wholesale feed offices of the company were moved to their present location at the west end of Front Street.
By 1972, it became very apparent that the Front St. location was not adequate. The former Bowman Dairy Co. property was purchased from the then defunct pump company and the fertilizer manufacturing facilities were moved to that location. Some land was also purchased in the soon to be established Clinton Industrial Park and an 80,000 bushel grain bin was built in the fall of 1972.
In 1973, a new grain elevator was constructed which has since been expanded in 1977, 1982, 1986, 1992, 1999, and 2000. With the demise of the Milwaukee Rd. in Clinton, a railroad track was constructed through the Clinton Industrial Park providing rail service to the C & NW. The company began shipping 25 and 50 car unit trains in the winter of 1979-80, the first and only unit train grain shipper in Southern Wisconsin at the present time. Railroad service was the determining factor when Clinton was chosen for a location. At that time, Clinton was serving two major rail lines. The railroad is still an extremely important necessity of the company.
An undated photo of the Front St. location. Far left is William DeLong Jr., third from left is William C. DeLong, third from right is David DeLong.
A 19,250 sqft feed warehouse was constructed in the fall and winter of 1981-82 for the expanding feed lines, including pet foods, bird feeds, and wild bird feed, etc.
In 1982, the company entered into the business and process of identity preserving various types of corn and soybeans for the food industry. As this business has grown and the inability to expand at the Clinton facility, the company purchased a grain elevator in Kirby, OH in 1984 and presently processes food corn and soybeans at both locations.
In 1999 and 2000, the complete cleaning operation was upgraded with new cleaning equipment. This equipment provided extra capacity and performed a better cleaning process. The company also developed and built a new roll-belt sorter for the soybean cleaning process. This sorter is one of only 6 in the United States that separates splits out of round soybeans. Again, improving the quality of the products offered to our customers.
In the fall of 1984, DeLco Transport, Inc. was started as a separate transportation company, subsidiary of The DeLong Co., Inc. At the same times, DeLco International, Ltd., an export marketing company was established to market foreign export from both Clinton, Wisconsin and Kirby, Ohio facilities. Both are headquartered in Clinton, Wisconsin.
The company purchased the Cropmate Company fertilizer plant between Darien and Sharon in 1985 and added an anhydrous ammonia plant in Clinton in 1986. In the fall of 1987, the Bowman Fertilizer plant in Winnebago, Illinois, as well as the Cropmate Company fertilizer plant in Evansville, Wisconsin were purchased.
Further expansion in the fall of 1990 included the Terra Fertilizer location in Winnebago, Illinois as well as the Lein Oil Fertilizer facility in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Later expansions included the building of a new birdseed mixing plant at the Clinton facility, as well as the acquisition of a retail store in Illinois and other grain elevators around Illinois. By 2007 the grain division had grown significantly to become the largest containerized ag shipper in the country, and a major supplier of food grade corn and soybeans worldwide. Currently the company comprises 15 locations in Clinton, Evansville, Janesville and Sharon, Wisconsin; Joliet, Channahon, Garden Prairie, Winnebago, Marengo, Minooka, Waterman, and Troxel, Illinois; and Kirby, OH.
By providing the best staff and services for the growers of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, the agronomy department has been recognized in Farm Chemical Magazines as one of the nation's top 100 dealers since annual listing started in 1985. For a number of years the company has also been included in Deloitte's annual list of the Top 75 privately owned businesses in Wisconsin. In 2008, The DeLong Co., was 23rd on the list based on total sales.
Florabelle DeLong, wife of William DeLong Jr., who served as an owner and vice president, became inactive in the company in 1966 due to illness and deceased on May 12, 1979. William DeLong, Jr. deceased January 9th, 1982 after an accident and brief illness, having spent 53 years with the company, the last 31 years as it's chief managing partner and later president. William Jr.'s two sons both worked in the family business as well.
Back Row: William C. (Bo), Charles (Chick), Jesse (Jay), Dave and Dan DeLong.
Front Row: Delmar and William B. DeLong
William B, DeLong, after his return from the Army in 1950, joined the company and guided the company through much of its growth in the grain and liquid fertilizer business. He suffered a series of heart attacks and strokes commencing April 15, 1975 and retired in 1982 to De Leon Springs, Florida. He deceased on January 16, 1992.
Delmar E. DeLong started with the company after his return from the Army in 1955. He left to practice law in 1966 and served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1970-1982. Upon his fathers death in 1982, he returned to serve as president until his retirement in 1994 to Ocala, Florida. He deceased June 30, 1999.
William C. (Bo), Charles R. (Chick), and Jesse (Jay), sons of William B. DeLong, are currently active in the business.
David D. (Dave), son of Delmar E. DeLong, is currently active in the business.
Bo started full-time in 1974 working in the fertilizer division. In 1982, he became manager of the grain division and currently serves on the board of directors. Dave started full-time in 1975 working in the fertilizer division. In 1982, he became manager of the fertilizer division and currently serves on the board of directors as President. Chick started full-time in 1977 working in the grain division and later in the feed division. In 1982, he became manager of the feed division and currently serves on the board of directors. Dan started full-time in 1977 in the feed division and served as the manager of DeLco Transport and on the board of directors until 2009; Dan deceased January 2010. Jay started full-time in 1981 as a feed salesman, later worked in the grain division and now works with Chick in the feed division.
In 2008, Robert (Bob) DeLong, son of Delmar, and Peggy (DeLong) Peissig, daughter of William B., were elected to served on the board of directors with Bo, Dave, Chick and Dan. Current directors as of 2012 include Bo, Dave, Chick, Bob and Peggy.
Additional family members and spouses employed at The DeLong Co., Inc. include: Vicky DeLong, Patrick DeLong, Erin (DeLong) Hamburg, Gabe Burke, Austin DeLong, Kristin (DeLong) Farwell, Chris DeLong and Jordan DeLong.
Employees of The DeLong Co., Inc.
In order for any company to be successful, it must have dedicated hard working people. The DeLong Co., Inc. is no exception. Since moving to Clinton, the company has had many such employees starting with Leo Rye and Ben Latta, the only two employees in 1929. Since that time, many persons have contributed greatly to the success of the company. Charles Schrandt first at the feed mill and then as an oil salesman was the first of such people.
Bert Baker, Jerry Hubka, and Charles Bray as millers. Russ Baldwin, Bert Smith, John Reeder, Jerry Johnson, Art Wilkins, and Cliff Herstad as truck drivers. And Chris Jensen in the coal division.
Margaret Schrandt (Jones), Elinor Dudley (Roeker), Everett Johnson, Barbara Everhart, Inez Hahn, Lucille Swenson, Judy Lawler, and Donna Krebs in the office. Miles Meng, Dave Case, Don Leeney, Don Gaffney, and Arnie Herstad in sales. Fred Howland in the grain division. Nick Nielson and Marv Coehoorn in the feed division.
Presently employed at the company are many employees with the same dedication and loyalty, such as Beverly Hahn since 1958, Barbara Shull since 1972, Jeff Miller since 1973, Mike McFarlin and Rod Lyga since 1978, Tom Hill since 1981, Linda Urban, Rick Urban and Susan Rahberg since 1982, Cathy Chrislaw and Joyce Hochstettler since 1984, Rick Keller since 1987, Loran Klitzman, Wesley Newman, and Carol Schneider since 1988, Tim Sanders since 1989, Tom Watson and Rod Hanson since 1990.
Throughout the year we employ between 200 and 270 full time, part time and season employees at our various locations.