The rising demand for grain, animal feed and farm supplies influenced Leo B. DeMeyer to start his own grain & feed business - Grayslake Feed Sales Inc., located on the corner of Rt. 120 and Slusser Street. With over 1,250 farms in the Lake County area, Leo's main business was selling and hauling grain, animal feed, farm seed and farm supplies.
Grayslake Feed Sale's first location, on the corner of Rt. 120 and Slusser Street, in Grayslake, IL.
Early 1950's -
Leo moved Grayslake Feed Sales to the property that it is located today - on the corner of Center Street and Seymour Avenue. With the new location right next to the Soo Line Railroad, new doors were opened to GFS. Leo built the original retail store, office and warehouse space, but later on, added a grain mill and four silos for custom mixing and grinding of animal feed.
Leo B. DeMeyer, founder of Grayslake Feed Sales.
Late 1940's -
Grayslake Feed Sales became the central distributor in the Lake County area for grain, feed and farm supplies. With business growing, Leo needed a location near a railroad to ship and recieve grain and animal feed.
Grayslake Feed Sales's current location, on Center Street and Seymour Avenue in Grayslake, IL. Pictured is the original Grayslake Soo railroad station.
A "new" building was built on the north side of the property. This building, which is now called the "north building" was originally split into two sections. The west section was designed to hold bagged goods, and the east side was meant to store bulk fertilizer and grain. This east side was accessible by either train cars or trucks.
Leo's son, Richard DeMeyer, opened up a lawn & garden equipment repair shop - Grayslake Feed Outdoor Power Equipment, located on Rt. 120 and Slusser Street, in the original building of Grayslake Feed Sales. First meant for maintaining GFS trucks and equipment, but later on grew to a public operation, servicing farm & lawn equipment, as well as being a dealer for several lines of engines and power equipment.
The Grayslake Feed Outdoor Power Equipment shop, located on Rt. 120 and Slusser Street, in the original building of Grayslake Feed Sales.
Early 1980's -
Agriculture began to change in the Lake County area. Small farms began to disappear, and more coroporate farms began to pop up. These larger farms began to haul their own grain and buying direct, rather than going through a local dealer. As small farms dwindled to about 300-400 in the area, new life appeared as new home owners flocked to Lake County. As the demand for livestock feed, fertilizer and farm equipment went down, and the demand for more specialty animal and lawn products rose, Leo and his other son, John DeMeyer, who joined his father in the mid1980's, began to change the market of Grayslake Feed Sales. Once a dealer for mostly bulk grain and fertilizer, Grayslake Feed Sales began selling more specialty animal feed, animal supplies and lawn & garden supplies, while Richard DeMeyer at Grayslake Feed Outdoor Power Equipment started selling more lawnmowers, weed trimmers, tillers and chain saws to accommodate for the loss of farming business.
The market change to selling more specialty animal feeds, animal supplies and lawn & garden supplies sparked a new business "boom" for Grayslake Feed Sales. The original retail and office space did not give enough room for more retail development, so an addition to the front of the building was put up for a much larger retail floor and office space.
Grayslake Feed Sales retail and office addition being built in 1991.
Grayslake Feed after the addition to the front of the building.
The business at Grayslake Feed Outdoor Power Equipment also spurted with the market change geared more toward new homeowners in the Lake County area. Needing more floor space for the expanding company, Richard DeMeyer was stuck with two options; to move the power equipment shop out of town to a larger facility, or to expand the original location. The final decision was to add to the original location, which would double the floor space, add another level and add a frieght elevator.
With more room for retail and office space, Grayslake Feed moved onto the next project; another new warehouse. The two older warehouses did not allow enough room for large amounts of bagged fertilizer, grass seed, rock salt and animal feed that consumers demanded. This "new" building was designed to be much larger than the other two warehouses and be equipped to have four commercial garage doors and one semi loading bay for much more storage and efficiency.
2000's - Present -
John DeMeyer, his family and his rooted empolyees have been expanding the business and selling more merchandise that appeals to the modern consumer's eye, while still keeping an old-school style. Customers who remember coming to the "feed store" as child with their parents, still reminisce on their memories as they buy their animal food at the feed store today.