Bomgaars History

Bomgaars HistoryBomgaars History

A history of Bomgaars must begin with a little background on Mr. William H. Bomgaars. In the small town of Middleburg, Iowa at the age of 18, he was operating a general store, selling gingham from the bolt, and crackers from a barrel. Also from this store, he stocked horse-drawn wagons with all the needs of the rural family and drove them on a farm route. From this beginning, after various positions, including selling violin lessons in Chicago, and washing machines in South Dakota, Bill decided to venture out on his own. In 1931, in Sioux City, he borrowed $125.00 on his Army insurance to purchase a Model A Ford, and Mr. Bob Bowes, of Bowes Seal Fast, extended time credit for a beginning inventory of $125.00. Bill loaded his merchandise into the car and started out to build up a territory. By 1932, the midwest was deep in depression and growth was very slow. However, by 1934 he was eating 3 meals a day on a regular schedule. Before this, he had been on an inventive program that let him eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, as the case may be, as soon as he made his first sale of the day.

In January 1944, the operation had expanded to the point where it could no longer be contained in their home, and was moved to the first downtown location at 819 Pearl Street, in Sioux City, Iowa. At this time the work force consisted of two extra employees, Bill's sister, Ann, in the office, and his brother, Gerald, as a salesman on the road.

In 1944 Sioux City sustained extensive damage from a major flood on the west side and the building had to be sand-bagged. The next move was to the building at 611 Pearl Street in 1945. The business consisted mainly of tire and repair materials. By 1946, Bomgaars became the jobber for NAPA automotive parts and had two office girls and four salesman traveling through the territory.

Harold Bomgaars (Bill's son) graduated from the University of Iowa in 1947 and entered the business on a full time basis as a traveling salesman.

In July, 1952, Bill heard of an innovation in Grand Forks, North Dakota that caught his attention: the sending of fleet cards to farmers entitling them to discounts. Manufacturers at that time were selling at a discount to businesses on a fleet basis; that is, any business operating five or more fuel powered vehicles and/or equipment, were qualified to buy at a discount. Bill's wife, Tena, and Bill's sister-in-law compiled the lists of people operating 5 or more vehicles from the tax roles in the county seats. It was in Milbank, South Dakota, in 1952, that four men, including Bill Bomgaars, instituted the Mid-States buying group and Bomgaars went into the farm fleet business. Many new lines were added and this resulted in the beginning of more rapid growth, necessitating a move to larger quarters at 204 Fourth Street in 1955.

It is interesting to note that because business was so poor in 1952, when Bill first heard of the farm fleet program, he sent Harold on a trip to St. Louis to visit the office of the Ben Franklin stores with the idea of changing to that line of business.

Expansion began taking place in the form of opening branch stores, and the first one was in Yankton, South Dakota in 1956 and has continued to this present day. 

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