SUPPORT OUR SHOPS: Animal feed is food of life for Martin
Martins Animal Feeds of Long Sutton
What do you do when the job you have had for 45 years suddenly ends in redundancy?
We had the sheds and although it took two years to really get the business established, things have gone from strength to strength
That was the crossroads reached by Martin Grimwood before he set up his animal feed business in Long Sutton which has grown to such a extent his wife Susan ‘retired’ and joined him in the business!
Martins Animal Feeds, which opened on Hospital Drove on April 18, 2009, might never have happened if Martin was still working for ex-Whaplode construction firm D.A. Green and Sons Limited.
He said: “Susan and I had thought about setting up a business selling horse feed, but then fate gave us a hand.
“I was made redundant after 45 years and, at the age of 60, I asked myself ‘what do I do?’
“At first, I didn’t know, as I’d worked at D.A. Green since leaving school when I was 15.
“As a 60-year-old, I thought that I wouldn’t get another job, so I cleaned out all the old buildings we had at home and gave the business a go.
“It was a gamble, although Susan had a desk job which carried us through and we didn’t owe anybody anything as the property was ours.
“In a way, D.A. Green helped me by giving me that extra push and from working at a place where you get regular wages, I have quite a nice life and I’ve never looked back.”
Martins Animal Feeds currently serves customers living in a 10-mile radius of its warehouse, which includes Holbeach, Sutton Bridge, Sutton St James, Tydd St Mary and Long Sutton.
The business supplies animal feed for dogs, cats, chickens and horses, as well as a small range of basic treatments for dogs.
Susan said: “I’ve lived here all my life and the land belonged to my father who shared out its three acres to me and two sisters when got to old to farm it himself.
“But my sisters didn’t want their shares of the land, so me and Martin took it on, planting a hedge all the way round it in 1999 and then starting a livery yard in 2001.
“It took a while to get Martins Animal Feeds off the ground, but as we got bigger and more people started to come, I left my job as a secretary/receptionist at a structural engineering firm in Spalding where I’d been for 25 years.
“Having got to the point where the business was getting busy, Martin and I sat down, did the sums and said ‘I think we can say that I can retire’.”
Martin said: “When you’re made redundant, you think ‘I’m finished’ and that it’s the end.
“But we had the sheds and although it took two years to really get the business established, things have gone from strength to strength.
“A lot of trade comes through word of mouth and when people hear that we cater for all kinds of animals, they come and find that they like us.
“Some of that is because we sell the bigger bags of animal feed, customers can park in the drive and someone will help them put it in their car.
“We do get a lot of elderly customers, as it’s quite handy for them and they like to have a good chat some of the time as well.”
According to the Food Standards Agency, the UK has about 200,000 animal feed businesses involved in importing, producing, handling, storing and distributing the products.
The industry is worth about £4.4billion to the UK economy, which serves an estimated 13 million pet owners or 46 per cent of the population, according to consumer website TotallyMoney.com.
Susan said: “We’d like to keep Martins Animal Feeds as it is, but if people ask for different things, then we’d get it for them.
“There’s the room here to stock the things we know will sell, but we can’t do without having loyal customers who are quite happy with us because we’re on their doorstep.”
Martin added: “It’s bit like a restaurant here where you don’t want too big a menu.
“But I wouldn’t want to go back to work now and it’s nice to be your own boss where you have a better quality of life.”