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Take a step back in time to the year 1955…the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cleveland Browns were World Champions, Oklahoma won the College Championship, Colonel Sanders opened his first KFC, Walt Disney created Disneyland, an average car cost $1,910, a postage stamp was 3 cents, and gas was 23 cents a gallon!
This was the backdrop when brothers Howard and Ray Davis purchased a struggling Ford tractor dealership in Perryville, MO. The new company became known as Davis Brothers Farm Supplies. It was located on Highway 61 on the southern outskirts of town, (the building still exists just north of Smith Street).
Original Location of Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. (circa 1955)
The business was launched with one pickup truck, one trailer, a mechanic, one parts man, and a part-time bookkeeper. The partnership was the smallest of seven tractor dealerships in the Perryville farming community. The company name was changed to Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. when, shortly after its beginning, Ray bought out his brother Howard’s portion of the business.
With only 35 horsepower, Ray’s product, the Ford tractor, was considered small by industry standards. Nevertheless, the tractor was agile, and along with the Massey-Ferguson was the only other tractor that featured a revolutionary invention of Harry Ferguson – the three-point hydraulic hitch. The Ford line at that time consisted of the 9N, 8N, and the NAA “Golden Jubilee”. However, in early 1955, Ford began offering new models. These were the 600, 700, 800, and 900 Powermaster series. These larger tractors enabled Ray to remain competitive with the other local dealerships.
From the start, Davis Farms Supplies, Inc. was a family affair. Ray had grown up on the family farm. Ray and his wife Myrtle had two sons, Jim and Jerry. The boys both worked at the business doing odd jobs, assembling equipment, making deliveries, and helping their Dad demonstrate various models.
Jerry had worked on his Grandpa’s family farm and was a member of the FFA chapter while in high school. From this experience, he developed a deep love of farming. He began working full-time at Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. as a parts man, learning the business from the ground up. During this time, he met his wife Sandy, who just happened to be the company bookkeeper!
Jim, the younger of the two Davis boys, graduated from high school, attended college, and then served his country as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He returned to Perryville and worked at the family business from 1975-1979, and returned to military service in 1979.
Meanwhile, in 1959 Ford introduced the Select-O-Speed transmission to the Powermaster series. Then, in 1961, Ford added the 61 horsepower 6000 model. During 1962, Ford exchanged the gray and red tractor colors for the “Long Blue Line”, and blue became the primary color for all Ford equipment. It remains today as the primary color for New Holland.
As the larger tractors came on the scene and word of the self-propelled combine loomed on the horizon, Davis Farm Supplies, Inc., was outgrowing the initial location. As a result, in 1963, the business moved a block south to a larger building, and additional mechanics were added, (the building is now a convenience/gas store). At the same time, Jerry’s role was expanded to parts manager and equipment salesman. Also that year, Ray and Jerry purchased the local Massey-Ferguson franchise and incorporated it into the Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. product line. Just in time too, because combines were becoming more common on the farm, and the Massey-Ferguson 300 model was widely recognized as a workhorse.
Second Location of Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. (circa 1970)
Through the 1960’s and early 1970’s business and equipment continued to grow, and the shop area was enlarged to handle the volume and larger equipment. Even with the larger facilities, accommodations once again became tight. So, in 1974, the decision was made to build anew. Jerry and Sandy purchased eight acres on Highway 51 north of Perryville, and they constructed a brand new facility. It was carefully planned to meet and exceed the requirements of a modern farm implement business. The new building allowed the dealership to handle the larger machinery plus complete the new line of Ford and Massey-Ferguson consumer products that included lawn and garden equipment. It was after this business relocation that Jerry and Sandy purchased Ray’s part of the corporation.
Third Location of Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. (circa 1974)
Even though the process of careful planning resulted in an excellent facility, servicing over 350 combines yearly, plus tractors and other farm equipment, put a limit on the enterprise, so further expansion was once again deemed necessary. In 1976, a large storage building was added which alleviated the overflow…for a time. In 1995, the shop/service area was expanded once again! As the dealership continued to grow, adjoining property was purchased in 2002. In 2003, an improved loading dock facility was added. Yet another expansion in 2004 provided additional office space, computer technology update, a conference area, manufacturer’s merchandise items, and a contemporary showroom complete with a customer waiting area with a TV for viewing informational videos and farm reports.
Davis Farm Supplies, Inc., Perryville, MO (circa 2009)
At the same time as the Davis family was expanding, so was Ford. The Ford Tractor Division bought New Holland in 1986. In 1987 the Versatile line was acquired. All three lines were incorporated under the New Holland banner, and Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. was a full-fledged New Holland dealer!
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The next decade brought more lines into the Davis family business. The year 2000 ushered in the Kawasaki utility vehicles to reach a growing segment of the farming market. In 2005, with many competitive tractor dealerships now gone from the area, Jerry and Sandy decided to add the Kubota tractor line. Today the company handles New Holland, Kubota, and many short lines to meet every customer need in the farm implement, commercial, and recreational arenas.
With Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. continued growth, Jerry and Sandy found their customer base was ever-widening. Folks were traveling quite a distance seeking equipment and parts. In 2007, finding their current facilities maxed out, Jerry and Sandy decided that the only thing to do was – surprise – expand, and build another Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. facility to complement the Perryville location! After much planning and searching for just the right accommodations, they purchased an existing building on three acres in Fruitland, MO. The building was completely renovated, updated, and linked via fiber optics to the Perryville location. As in Perryville, the Fruitland facility has a modern showroom, parts department, offices, conference room, and a large shop area. Both locations are equipped with the latest in information technology components.
Welcome to Davis Farm Supplies, Inc., in Fruitland, MO! The new dealership offers the time-tested New Holland and Kubota farm implement lines, Kubota utility vehicles, Kubota zero-turn lawn mowers, and Bad Boy zero-turn mowers. The facility was officially opened on April 1, 2008.
Davis Farm Supplies, Inc., Fruitland, MO (circa 2009)
The Fruitland facility, like the Perryville location, has been flourishing. So much so, that in 2015, the decision was made to double the shop size with a 4800 SF new building addition! The structure is large enough to accommodate the largest tractors, combines, planters, and vertical tillage equipment.
Davis Farm Supplies, Inc., Fruitland, MO New Shop Addition (circa 2015)
Even though Ray Davis and his wife Myrtle have since passed away, Ray’s business philosophy of servicing the customer first still continues, and the business remains very much a family affair. All of Jerry and Sandy’s children - Pam, Tim and Tom - and older grandchildren Austin and Chase work in the business too. For good measure, Jerry and Sandy’s younger grandchildren work in the business when not in school, or at other part-time employment.
Ray and Myrtle Davis (circa 1980)
As testimony to Ray and the Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. business he founded, they have been recognized for many achievements through numerous awards over the years. One of the most noted being the President’s Award. This award is presented by New Holland to select dealers for exceptional customer service, community participation, and business volume. Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. has received this award every year since 1994.
Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. is widely known for giving back to the community. Jerry served as the President of the Mississippi Valley Farm Association for many years. The company has always been active supporters of the local FFA and 4-H chapters. Throughout the year, they also support many other local organizations by donating items or making cash donations. Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. has raised tens of thousands of dollars for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital through their annual sponsorship and organizing of the popular spring St. Jude’s ATV ride. Click here to see a few photos of the fun!
Jerry and Sandy also work diligently to ensure that the original Ford line of equipment is never forgotten through the annual Heritage Ride of antique tractors that they have helped organize for several years. The event is quite well-known, and has been hosted and lead by Max Armstrong, the famous RFD-TV personality and Farm Report anchor. The ride was even recognized as one of the top six rides in the nation by Chevron Delo. Click here to view photos of the 2009 Heritage Ride!
A business of this type flows with the ebb and tide of the weather and the overall farm economy with regard to prices of grain, cattle and hogs, dairy and agricultural products, and now, fuel. Through “thick and thin” the business has survived by adherence to the Davis philosophy of striving to provide excellent customer service. However, this could not happen without the dedicated staff, past and present, of Davis Farm Supplies, Inc., (photo courtesy of La Rose Studios, Perryville, MO, used by permission).
2005 - Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. 50th Anniversary
Most importantly, though, the key factor that has enabled the company to exist and thrive is the customers who do business with us. In 1955 there were many smaller farms which meant more customers. Today, there are fewer but larger farms, and the customer base of Davis Farms Supplies, Inc. is spread over a much larger geographical area, including adjacent states.
The entire Davis family and the staff of Davis Farm Supplies, Inc. would like to extend a heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to all of our customers and friends for your business and support through the past 62 years…and counting!
We look forward to serving you over the next 60-something years…and then some!
"Don't Cuss, Call Us!"