Family firearms business expands as Virden Ag & Parts, serving area agriculture

Virden Ag & Parts is a homegrown business set to serve the Virden and area farming community. Beyond farming, anyone who needs light construction equipment such as a posthole auger, a portable saw mill or even a box scraper can rent one from Virden Ag.

Started by Matt and Genn Hipwell, Wolverine Supplies owners/operators, just six months after Morris Sales & Service dealership closed its doors, Virden Ag was up and running at the end of August.

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While Wolverine Supplies is a well-known firearms, hunting, and outdoor supply store, the Hipwells also farm along the valley, located five miles northeast of Virden.

The management team recognized a need in the agricultural community after Morris left town.

It was also an opportunity for the family business to diversify and to use the infrastructure they had built up over some 30 years. That became even more important after the Liberal government introduced sweeping bans of popular sport shooting firearms this past May, cutting into Wolverine’s business by about 25 per cent.

Having a talented staff of 20, a marketing infrastructure and the know-how, Hipwell decided to open Virden Ag as a short line supply and rental business.

“We wanted to diversify, fill a gap in our local area and keep our staff employed during this uncertain time, which is compounded with COVID-19.”

Hipwell explains that the idea to go forward with this new business drew the support of Wolverine’s staff. “Our management style includes team meetings. We believe in capitalizing on each other’s strengths.”

Guy Pounder, with Wolverine for 11 years and their head of sales, geared up to become the manager for the new line of products.  “I relish the challenge,” said Pounder, who came from the UK 20 years ago and built up his own cattle and grain farm in the Oak Lake area.

Virden Ag is a work in progress. Supplies for haying and forge crops will continue to grow next year. They carry GPS units that can be installed to upgrade tractors, sprayers, combines, anything you can drive, with GPS technology to provide precision farming capabilities.

“These are units that small farmers can afford,” says Pounder. “I bought a sprayer. To buy a full marker set would be close to $2,000. I can buy that unit, I can spray with it, I can seed, I even set it on the manure spreaders - just because I could.”

After trying it out, he added the auto-steer feature that goes with the GPS unit. It is innovative agricultural items that Hipwell and Pounder see as the wave of the future.

The company lists their rental equipment and products on their website which is updated as new products arrive. You can visit them at www.virdenag.ca.

Under Matt and Jen Hipwell, this family owned and operated business is a strong local employer. Vicki Logan is currently the lead purchaser for Wolverine.

“With her background in agriculture herself, she’ll be helping Guy with purchasing when we need someone else here. We’re utilizing all the talents that we have at Wolverine,” said Genn, the business’s accountant.

Andrea Cook provided the eye-catching graphic design for the Virden Ag logo.

Matt’s father and Wolverine’s founder, John Hipwell serves as maintenance. Pounder says, “He comes in here first thing in the morning. He’s looking after the machinery, so when it comes back, he makes sure it’s good to go for the next person.”

 

© Virden Empire-Advance