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Business Spotlight: Farming Projects Made Easy at Tri-County Supply

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By Carlee Frank

‘Tis the season. Well, not Christmas season just yet –it’s preparation season. Homeowners across the area are chopping, stacking and covering wood for winter; they are studying the best types of snow blowers for the inevitable blizzards and completing last minute construction projects before the freeze is in the air. However, no matter the task, all of your power equipment needs can be taken care of at Tri-County Supply.

They sell tractors, chainsaws, mowers, tillers and much more. Located at 12069 Olean Road (Route 16) in Chaffee, the store is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tri-County’s current facility was opened in 1962 by Paul Lewis, and is now owned by three of his sons: Rick, Ron and Russ Lewis. However, the store has its origins after World War II when Paul began working on a small farm in the Holland/Colden area.

“He was doing custom work for other farmers and went into the machinery repair business,” Rick Lewis said. “It was a rather rural location, so he needed something more on the main road.”

For this reason, the store was moved to Chaffee, NY and renamed Tri-County Supply due to its positioning between Erie, Wyoming and Cattaraugus counties.

Lewis has been in the business around 40 years and said they have adapted to changes in both clientele and farming methods over the decades. While they began as an agriculture-based business, Lewis noted they now supply more to rural land owners.

“I grew up in Holland/Colden and I can remember driving on Center Street to East Aurora and there were about 26 farms, and there’s not one farm there now,” Lewis said.

Commercialization of farming has decreased the number of small family farms throughout the United States. Much of the land is still being used, Lewis said, but it is by big business farms.

While there are still small farms in our area, especially because of the growing popularity of farmers markets and organic farming, Tri-County Supply services many homeowners as well. Lewis said most of their customers are second time buyers, meaning they are usually making an investment in top-line equipment.

Tri-County Supply sells many brand products such as Husqvarna, as well as Kioti, Bush Hog and Oregon. Lewis added that they are basically in the business of equipment that makes a lot of noise.

Something else that has made a lot of noise for the business is their partnership with retired Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. The football player worked with Tri-County Supply to grow crops at his Ellicottville facility. Since then, he has done some promotion for the store, and still uses their assistance in farming projects.

Local celebrities aside, Lewis said they have long standing relationships with many of their clients.

“We’ve had some clients for 50 years, and some of them have passed on and we’re working with the second generation of families,” Lewis said.

Even if customers come into the store for the first time, Lewis explained that they hope to keep everyone happy and well assisted.

The three brothers have been working with each other for years, and while the business has been very good to them, Lewis said, he also looks forward to retirement someday.

“It has provided good income for our families, but someday I’d like to sit back and do some wood working or something,” Lewis said.

For now, however, Tri-County Supply will remain a staple to farmers and homeowners throughout the region.

For more information, visit their website at www.TriCountySupply.com

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