Tyler Grain & Fertilizer opened in 1860 as a small hardware store owned and operated by Jacob Frick. The business was located at what was known as the “Summit” just south of Smithville and across the street from its current location. At the time, Jacob dealt primarily in grain, seed, and wool.
In 1865, expanding business encouraged Jacob to relocate his operations to downtown Wooster where he added banking to his various ventures. He became the first president of Wayne County National Bank when it was organized in 1880.
In 1881, Jacob’s daughter, Melissa, married William Dexter Tyler of Mansfield, who in turn came to work for his father-in-law. With business continuing to grow and the demands of a new bank needing his attention, Jacob made W. Dexter a partner in the grain operations the following year. W. Dexter and Melissa had two sons, Jacob Frick and Walter William, who each joined their father in the business. By 1900, the business was known as Tyler’s Fertilizer.
Tyler’s return to the Smithville area came about in the early 1930’s as the result of an arrangement between Walter William, known to his friends as W.W., and A.C.Ramseyer, an area farmer. A.C. provided the land on which the current factory is located so that Tyler’s could better serve the area’s potato farmers. The building built by W.W. in 1932 to house the new factory remains the main building for the business today. The Wooster location, which had been operating out of a building adjacent to the Wayne County Courthouse, moved into a new building in 1939 at the foot of Madison Hill across from Wooster Brush Co. A grain elevator was added to the Smithville location that same year.
After serving the war effort as a civilian aviation instructor in Florida, W.W.’s son, Walter Frick Tyler brought his new family back to Wayne County to succeed his father as the fourth generation to run the family business. Walter Frick carried the business into its second century, running the company until his death in 1969. He was succeeded in management by his widow, Josephine Hobbs Tyler, who ran the business with the assistance of her two sons, Howard and Walter. Josephine oversaw operations of the company from the Wooster location, while Walter ran the Smithville fertilizer plant built by his grandfather.
In 1976, Walter and his wife, Mildred, built a home just down the street from the business and made Smithville their permanent home. They raised three children in the community, Walter III, William, and Clarissa. In addition to taking over full operations of the business following his mother’s death in 1992, Walter has been an active member of the Smithville community, serving on city council and two terms as mayor. Over the same time, the business went through tremendous change. The 1980’s saw a movement away from the grain mill operations, and the 1990’s brought an expansion into sand as well as larger seed and liquid fertilizer services. The Madison Hill location in Wooster was torn down in 1997 and several new buildings were added to the Smithville property. The 1990’s also saw the beginning of the sixth generation of the business, as Walter’s son, William, began taking a larger interest in company decisions.
William and his wife, Krista, also settled in Smithville with their son, Devin. In the last decade, William has worked with his father to change and adapt their business to stay ahead of new trends and technology in the industry. In 2010, Tyler Grain & Fertilizer Co. celebrated its 150th anniversary with the completion of a new 7500 ton dry fertilizer storage building, a clear sign of Tyler’s continued commitment to their hometown.
Tyler’s the business and Tyler’s the family continue to strive to provide the best possible service to Ohio’s agriculture community, as they have for generations.