For over 50 years, Wayne Brown has been providing quality farm and ranch supply service to the citizens of Gonzales County and beyond. From humble beginnings in his barn out on Shiner Highway to the current location of WB Farm and Ranch Supply on 183, Wayne Brown and family have exemplified what it is like to provide quality service with a local, personal touch in a family-owned business.
“I started working in the lumber business on March 2, 1962 for the lumber company here in Gonzales,” Wayne Brown said last week. “I did that for 24 years before opening my own business in the barn out in my backyard on March 2, 1986. I have owned my own business ever since.”
According to Wayne, he set up shop in his barn behind his house at 5217 US Highway 90 by “moving hay from one stall to another, then putting a desk in the vacant stall.” That was 32 years ago.
“My initial thought was to just sell chicken or poultry houses back then,” Wayne said. “My idea was to sell everything necessary to build the houses from lumber, plumbing, metal roofs, to wire and everything else associated with that. But things quickly took off and people were asking for all sorts of supplies to support their poultry houses and other things. When I first started, my goal was to be open four days a week and fish for three days. We even bought a top-notch fishing pole for when we got to go fishing. We got so busy that we never really used the pole and eventually sold it.
“I was expanding pretty rapidly, and after about three months my son Keith came in with me and we expanded our operation. We had the whole package, and I built the business for Keith to run.”
WB Farm and Ranch Supply continued to grow on the Brown property, and a few years later Wayne’s daughter Lisa joined the company as treasurer.
“This is a family-owned business, and little by little the family started trickling in to help out,” Lisa laughed. “Now, about half of our family or relatives work here at WB.”
“I am proud of our family-owned and operated business,” Wayne said. “We do things with a personal touch, and we try and help our customers because they are all our friends and neighbors. If we don’t have something, we won’t try and sell them something we don’t have. I’ll send them somewhere else to get whatever they need.
“I think that personal touch is what makes us and doing business in Gonzales different,” Wayne added. “We would not do business any other way.”
With Wayne and Keith piloting the operation, and Lisa and other family members contributing to the operation and managing the books, WB Farm and Ranch Supply continued to grow over the years. Today there are over 10 family members working at WB out of a fulltime staff of 18 employees.
However, they began to outgrow their capacity at the Shiner Highway facility, so they started looking around for a new location.
In 2011, they found it in the old South Texas Trailer location. Both Wayne and Keith loved the location, and they opened the doors there later that year.
“We had talked about it for a long time, but this fit perfectly with what we wanted to do,” Wayne said. “We improved our lineup by adding more hardware, paints, barbecue pits and smokers, YETI coolers and other lumber supplies once we had more room.
“Now we can provide quality service with a real down-to-earth family touch for just about anyone, whether they are builders, contractors or just private people.
“We do free estimates, have a fork lift on our delivery truck, and work along side a lot of builders and contractors,” he concluded.
“We also offer a full line of paints,” Lisa chipped in. “In fact, if you bring us a picture of the paint you are looking for, or better yet, a chip of the paint you want we have a computer program that can perfectly match your paint.”
While WB Farm and Ranch Supply has grown over the years, 2017 will not be a year remembered fondly by Wayne, Lisa or the rest of the family.
In June of 2017, Wayne lost his wife Carol. In the fall, his son Keith suddenly died, devastating the family.
“My wife had been sick for a while, but the sudden loss of Keith really hurt and surprised me. I built this operation with the idea he would run it but we all had to move on.
“We owe it to our loyal customers and to the people we have worked with,” Wayne said. “If it wasn’t for my customers in Gonzales I wouldn’t be here. All the people are great to work with, and I wouldn’t want to have a business anywhere else but here in Gonzales. We are a family business, and we know everyone and they are fair and honest to deal with.
“We intend to be here for a long, long time.”