Growers Mineral Solutions was founded in 1955 as Growers Chemical Corporation, by Dr. Victor A. Tiedjens, Joseph P. Henry and George B. Ward. They had a new concept called “the Growers Program” which, they felt, would be a great benefit to farmers.
The three main points of the Growers Program are:
provide a good growing medium by insuring adequate calcium in the soil
supply necessary nutrients to the plant by applying balanced high quality soluble plant nutrients at the correct time
and put in comparison plots and yield check to verify profitable results.
Of the three founders, Dr. Tiedjens had a impressive career in agricultural research. Through the years he cautiously developed and fine tuned a practical program he felt would be of great benefit to farmers. However, agricultural organizations were not interested in marketing his new program, so he joined forces with his colleague, Joe Henry, to help bring his program to the market. Joe had already established himself as a leader in the area of fertilizer sales and marketing. George Ward, who had an impressive background in business management, was included as the third partner to help run the new company. The founders have passed on, so today, the family of Joe Henry continues as owner and operator of Growers Chemical Corporation.
Looking for an inventory of tanks for the production of their fertilizer solution, the three entrepreneurs found the perfect tanks. The only problem was that a building was built around the tanks! They decided to buy the old building located in Milan, Ohio and convert it into their factory. The building was an old brewery, built in 1905, which had closed its doors in 1950. Revamping the building and the beer and grain handling equipment was relatively minimal. Joe Henry, former president of Growers said, “As an example of the outstanding construction of the building, just in one room on the second floor, we have 280 tons of GMS in tank storage. The building was extremely well built.”
A local paper in 1905 talked of the building, “It was decided to build a modern brewery and the services of the Wahl and Henius Institute of Fermentology of Chicago, recognized by the brewing interests of this country and Europe as the foremost and leading authorities in the world on brewing matters, were engaged to plan and equip a plant which, from a scientific and practical standpoint, could be a model one.”
“This firm was given full authority to use their years of theoretical, practical and scientific knowledge in these plans, and to use the words of Dr. Hanius, ‘Build a brewery which would be a guide for the brewing interest to follow in building in the future.’ Mr. Richard Griemer of Chicago, the famous brewery architect, prepared the plans under the supervision of the Wahl & Henius Institute.”
When the entrepreneurs purchased the building, the original equipment was used to produce the fertilizer. The same lines that moved beer in and out of the large steel storage vats and tanks were used for the production of Growers Mineral Solutions. The fifty foot high vertical bucket elevator used to convey grain up to the mix tank in the beer days was used for granular raw materials. The original scale tank was used to weigh in the various liquid raw material ingredients for each batch of fertilizer. Directly beneath the scale tank was the 3,000 gallon mix tank. Today, most of the equipment has been replaced, much of it with stainless steel materials. The spring water used in the formulation of GMS is the same used to make award winning beer since 1850.
Joe Henry, former president of Growers and an avid historian said, “In 1893 at the World's Fair in Chicago, beer made with Milan Springs water was declared the outstanding American Beer. Our source of water for Growers Mineral Solutions is the Milan Spring that produced this outstanding beer. We do not use city water. Years ago Dr. Tiedjens ran tests on the Milan Springs water. If you had 12 inches of this water over the top of an acre of land, it would contain 2,700 pounds of calcium in a soluble form.”