"Playing In The Dirt Since 1960"
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The History of Stoy Farms
In 1960, as a junior in high school, Larry Stoy rented his first farm from Bob Carpenter. Larry’s father, Otis Stoy, was a farmer at the time but on a very small scale. After High school Larry continued to farm and worked full time at Borg Warner in Auburn Indiana. Then in 1964 Larry and Judy Kuckuck were married. Larry and Judy were high school sweethearts and neighbors. As Larry put it there were three fields and two fence rows between their houses. September 18, 1966 Larry and Judy received their first son Ken. What seems like a short time later on January 31, 1968 son number two, Kevin, was born. Their youngest son Tom was born June 15, 1977. Judy graduated from Ball State as a teacher. She taught 1st, 2nd, 4th and special reading for DeKalb County Eastern School Corporation for 23 years. Larry opted for “30 and out” at the factory. He turned 30 and got out.
That was the early 70’s. Larry is very conservative by nature and never bought in to the new plateau that fence row to fence row farming was to bring. He survived the 70’s by not buying high priced land and expanding at an uncontrolled rate. He also survived by starting a farm drainage business with a neighbor. Dodge and Stoy farm drainage was born. From the late 70’s to the mid 80's several neighboring farms became available and the Stoy family acreage expanded to around 1,200 acres. Ken graduated from Angola High School in 1985 and started college at Purdue University in the fall of 1985 studying Ag Mechanization. Kevin graduated from Angola High School in 1986 and started college at Indiana University in the fall of 1986. He studied a variety of business degrees before settling on business management. Tom was still in elementary school but very active in helping on the farm.
During the 80’s Larry, Ken, Kevin and Tom used to “set up" new equipment for a local Case-IH dealership. Grain drills would pay $175 each and grain heads would pay $200. In the winter of 1988, a local farm owned by Bud and Betty Meyers became available for rent. Ken and Kevin put in a bid on the farm and got it. They took their last check for $1,350 from setting up equipment and opened a farm checking account. Ten years later Ken and Kevin bought that same farm and can now say they own the first farm they ever rented. Both Ken and Kevin were in college with two years until graduation. Neither had any plans to do anything but farm.
In 1990 they rented their second farm which was 300 acres and bought their first farm which was 164 acres. They still had no plans other than to farm. That same year they negotiated with a local vegetable farmer to purchase his equipment and contracts for parsley and potatoes to be supplied to Campbell's soup in Napoleon, Ohio. They were now “farmers”. Neither one ever worked full time away from the farm coming out of college. The following year in 1991 they rented 1,500 acres from 3 new landlords. They still operate all of the original farms mentioned. Fast forward to 1995, Larry and Judy’s youngest son Tom graduated from Angola High School and started an electronics program at ITT Technical Institute in Fort Wayne Indiana. The following year in 1996 Tom rented his first farm. He still operates that same farm today. Tom had always wanted to farm, but with the rapid acreage expansion his brothers had, he didn't think it would be possible. He reasoned that with over 240,000 tillable acres in the two counties closest to home, there would be opportunities. He was right. He never took over a farm that was given to him by either Larry or Ken and Kevin.
May 28, 2006 the Stoy family lost Judy to an illness that she had bravely battled for 11 years. Not a day goes by that she is not missed. 2006 was also the last year that Larry was officially a farmer. He chose to retire and leave the headaches of daily management to “the boys”. He still runs the equipment and worries about the weather. In the spring, a tractor and planter are still "dad’s” and in the fall a combine is also. Dad’s retirement was a bit of a surprise as he was only 63 when he made the decision. Everyone understands and appreciates the fact that we can now consider retiring someday too. There was a bit of uneasiness as dad was always the one who could make sense out of any problem. As time passes, dad’s still there to bounce ideas off. Dad can also claim that his first landlord, Bob Carpenter, was with him until his retirement and now rents his farm to the boys. It is rare in agriculture that two families can approach a 50 year relationship. God has richly blessed the Stoy family. His blessings are bountiful to all who believe. Our family believes God has brought many wonderful families into our lives, for that we are grateful. Some of these people are landlords, some are employees, some are suppliers while others are friends.
This decade was feast or famine. In 2009, the economy stumbled and we reacted. That was the year we bought "the tank farm" as we call it, also referred to as our fertilizer facility with rail access. Steel prices were cheap and so was fertilizer. We also started a cattle division, relying on custom feeding by a neighboring family. The concept was to partner two farms together and each do what they're best at. The Graber family that fed for us are the best in the business and are still feeding their own cattle. Our arrangement worked out very well between us. It worked until one of the 3 meat packers changed the dynamic of the local cattle market. By the end of the decade, margins were non-existent and everyone in ag was depressed. This decade led to a substantial increase in acres for us.
We are currently living through a nice commodity recovery. No one knows how long it will last. It has been a much needed increase in enthusiasm for all of ag. Our focus recently has been on improving quality and yields. We always look for expansion opportunities, but expansion without a plan is rarely a good idea. Contrary to what the media will tell you, the world is a stable place and growing. Agriculture will have to find stability and grow along with the rest of the world. Consumers are more aware now than ever. Some consumers demand organic with full traceability while others simply want food. We embrace the challenges that come with change.
Looking to the Future
The Stoy family farming operation has made a commitment to growth and efficiency into the future. That philosophy will not change. We have made significant capital investments toward growth and efficiency. What tomorrow brings is a mystery. We expect to adapt and change and continue to treat people as fairly as we have to get to this point.
MEET THE OWNERS
Ken, Kevin and Tom Stoy are brothers and the owners of Stoy Farms. Ken and Kevin started farming together in 1988 and Tom joined them in 1995. Together they farm in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Ken was born the oldest of the three brothers to Larry and Judy Stoy. After high school he earned a bachelor's degree from Purdue University. Ken currently oversees outside operations during the off seasons (It’s a 3-way effort during planting and harvesting seasons). Ken’s wife Melanie is a Registered Nurse who enjoys job-sharing to have the best of both family time and career. Their children Emily, Elizabeth, Hannah, Jake and Sarah are a true blessing to Ken and Melanie. Ken is a deacon and Melanie a praise team member for their church. As a family they enjoy camping in the upper peninsula of Michigan in the summer and visiting Florida in the winter.
Kevin, the 2nd child of Judy and Larry Stoy, started farming with his brother Ken in 1988, all while attending Indiana University, Bloomington. After graduating in 1991 from Indiana School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in business management, he entered the family business full time. Kevin’s main responsibility and passion is in grain marketing.
Kevin gives back to that community by being involved in the Pleasant Lake Lions Club, Steuben Community Foundation board member, and Ashley/Hudson Community Foundation Board. He has been married since 1992, to his high school sweetheart, Bridget. She has been employed by Parkview Health since 1991. Together, they have four beautiful daughters; Megan (Cory Eggers), Emily (Matt Somerlott), Abby and Katie as well as a grandchild, Ronan.
Tom, the youngest of the 3 brothers knew at a very young age that he wanted to farm. He graduated from Angola High School in 1995 and then graduated from ITT Technical Institute in Fort Wayne. While attending college Tom started working with landlords to begin farming his own ground, alongside his brothers. Tom and his wife Megan have been married since 1999. Megan worked as the office manager at Stoy Farms for 16 years before she started her business POET Marketing and Event Planning in 2021. The two attend Pleasant Lake Community Church with their daughters Olivia and Evelyn and son Preston. Tom serves as a Trustee at the church.