Bill Wilcox dedicates five decades to Winchester Feed

Bill Wilcox thought he would only work at Winchester Feed Company for three years, four at the most.

He wasn’t sure the warehouse business would last, he said.

As he nears his 50th anniversary with the business Sunday, Wilcox said he still loves what he does and the people he works with.

That’s not to say there haven’t been changes through the decades.

“The business has changed from wholesale to retail,” he said.

When he started working there March 31, 1969, the warehouse was part of Ralston Purina, he said.

“Over a few years, the Purina dealers in Winchester went out and we started doing retail,” he said.

In addition to selling animal feed, the Winchester facility manufactures its own feed for cattle, horses and other animals.

Though Wilcox has scaled back to working only four days a week, he has no complaints.

“I have really worked for some good people,” he said. “I like to work and I like the work I do.”

That work can vary throughout the course of the day.

Owner Andy Ritter said Wilcox is the manager, but it doesn’t stop him from leaving the front desk to go pick up a load of corn or unloading trucks as needed.

“Bill is Winchester Feed,” said Ritter, who purchased the business in 2001. “Every day, he treats it like his own. The business has grown six-fold since I bought it. He’s been a good steady hand.”

Wilcox said technology has helped make the demanding physical work a little easier, but regulations and record keeping have been the biggest changes.

In the past, an animal owner could come in, request a special feed mix and leave with it for a sick animal, he said.

“Now if you have a sick cow, you need a prescription,” he said. “We’ll fill whatever it says.”

“It’s better and worse. Now, everything has to be kept up with. Every batch we make we have to (take) samples.”

Wilcox said he plans to keep working there as long as ownership will have him and he can still make the drive from southern Clark County, where he has spent his entire life.

“I was planning to retire when I was 70,” he said. It’s still an enjoyable trip to come to town every day. It’s been fun and I still enjoy it.”