Schmidt Bros. Inc. has been in business for over 75 years! Look below to read all about how the company has changed over the years. A special thanks to all of our customers throughout the years for helping us to continue to prosper for more than three quarters of a century!
2000 – Present — Robert J. Schmidt and Paul M. Schmidt both passed away during this time. Robert in 2002 and Paul in 2011. Joseph Schmidt (Paul’s son) retired in 2006 and Lawrence Schmidt (Robert’s son) semiretired in 2011 (although he’s still here more than he is away!) Jennifer Barnes (daughter of William Schmidt) joined the ranks of Company Management in 2006, becoming the first member of the 4th generation to do so. In 2005, with the advent of Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray and Emeril, Schmidt Bros. thought that branding would be the next trend in vegetables and herbs. Homegrown Gourmet™ was developed as their private label brand of veggies and herbs and continues to grow in sales each year. In 2008, a large expansion took place in terms of greenhouse space as well as the addition of a new loading dock with 3 bays. They now have over 14 acres of greenhouse space and continue to service customers from Wisconsin/Illinois east to the Atlantic Ocean.
1990 – 1999 — In 1990, Schmidt Bros. stopped growing potatoes due to the rising production costs and dropping price of the finished product. The last year for growing sweet corn was 1995. Since they were no longer growing produce, they decided that having a large fleet of semi-tractors and trailers was no longer necessary. The trailers they did not sell were turned into storage units. Because the majority of the shipping was done during the three months in the spring, they decided it was more cost effective to hire outside drivers and equipment. Also, with a 3 to 6 month seasonal business like bedding plants, it was getting harder to find workers for just that amount of time. In 1997, Schmidt Bros. engaged a migrant crew leader from Texas to recruit workers for the spring. In 1998, a migrant camp was built on Scott Road near the turnpike plaza to house the many workers who came from Texas for the season each year.
1989 — They really started to cut back on growing produce because of the diseases and they just couldn’t get good crops anymore. They decided that the greenhouse part of the business was where they would focus their efforts for the future.
1988 — At this time, Lawrence was in charge of the outside vegetable crop production, and Allen worked in the field production and sowed greenhouse seeds. Bob handled plant sales and transplant scheduling. Joe ran the greenhouse production, ordered supplies and took care of the seeding schedules. Bill was the head of equipment maintenance and the grounds, and helped with the greenhouse plant production. Mike was in charge of potato transplant production and maintenance. This was also the year of the drought which greatly affected the entire northwest Ohio area.
1986 – 1987 — By this time, the company owned six semi-trucks and twelve farm trucks to use in the distribution of bedding plants and produce. They employed twenty-two year-round employees, but from March through May, there could be over eighty people working on the farm. In 1987, the area experienced one of the worst droughts in recent history, which had a big impact on the business. Paul and Robert, along with their spouses Helen and Aletha, officially retired January 1, 1987 but they would still come in once in a while to help out.
1985 — Over 75,000 bags of potatoes were grown during this time, and were shipped to potato chip companies through mid-December. Aletha (Robert’s wife) and Helen (Paul’s wife), who handled the paperwork until this time, semi-retired but continued to help out when needed.
1984 — In 1984, Schmidt Bros. started growing poinsettias, all of which were sold within a 30 mile radius. Today, poinsettias remain an important part of the business and are shipped as far as 250 miles from the greenhouse.
1983 — Schmidt Bros. resumed growing tomato transplants in the greenhouses because of the hybrid varieties coming out of the south and the prices were increasing.
1982 — The primary flowers grown on the farm at this time were marigolds, petunias and geraniums. Today, the spring order sheet is nine pages long, with hundreds of varieties and colors of annuals, as well as several vegetables. There were five and a half acres under glass in 1982, compared to over 14 acres today.
1981 — During this year, Schmidt Bros. grew thee hundred acres of potatoes and the rest of the acreage was for cabbage.
1979 – 1980 — Schmidt Bros. invested $100,000 into a second hydro cooling system and refrigerated storage. The hydro cooler was a giant tunnel that is forty feet long and was used to chill wire bound crates of sweet corn before it is shipped so it would have a longer shelf life. Allen Schmidt joined the firm full-time in 1977.
1975 — At about this time, one acre of cabbage would yield six hundred crates, with each crate holding about 18 heads. The whole crop yielded 10,800 heads per acre, or 432,000 heads on the forty acres that cabbage was grown on!
1974 — Schmidt Bros. continued to grow more flowers because that part of the business was flourishing, while cutting back on growing produce. The different produce markets were declining, there was an decrease in demand and lower prices, while the costs for growing and harvesting produce was increasing. Robert Schmidt, the current President of the company, joined the firm full-time!
1973 — The farm was incorporated and the name was changed to Schmidt Brothers Mapleview Farms. This name was chosen because of all the maple trees on the front lot!
1972 — This is the first year to use plastic flats in the greenhouse for the annuals. There was a bad storm in the summer that had a lot of hail that damaged the greenhouses.
1971 — All of the produce that was grown on the farm was shipped to local chain stores except the potatoes. Several truckloads of potatoes were shipped to the Wyse Potato Chip Company in Pennsylvania to make their delicious potato chips. William Schmidt joined the firm full-time.
1970 — By the time the 70’s rolled around, Schmidt Brothers was farming six hundred acres, in which they grew forty acres of cabbage and the other five hundred and sixty acres was for sweet corn and potatoes.
1969 — Sweet corn was drenched with ice water before being shipped. By this time, they had 3 semi-tractors driving out of Schmidt Brothers daily each carrying 36,000 ears of sweet corn in baskets. By the end of the season, they had shipped three million ears of corn! Lawrence Schmidt joined the firm after graduating from The Ohio State University and cousin Joseph Schmidt also came on board.
1968 — Sweet corn was packed in baskets or sacks, which each held sixty ears. Buyers east of Toledo accepted corn in sacks, while buyers west of Toledo wanted the corn in baskets. Construction began on a new fiberglass greenhouse. Lawrence H. Schmidt, currently a manager with Schmidt Bros. Inc., married Janice Latham.
1967 — During this time, they were also growing one hundred and fifty acres of sweet corn, which yielded five to six tons per acre. All of the sweet corn was picked by hand then brought up to the processing building where it was graded for size and quality.
1965- 1966 — Paul was in charge of purchasing the seeds, sowing them and growing the flowering plants. Sowing the seeds and keeping up with the greenhouses was very labor intensive. In the greenhouses, the flats were just set on long boards that made it easy for weeds to grow up into the flats. Back then, the flats were wooden so they often had to spend their winter months mending them.
1964 — Robert’s job at that time was to take care of the bedding plant customers. They bought a mailing list of stores who sold bedding plants and through those contacts they found some of their largest customers. They also purchased their first potato harvester at this time. It had an instrument on the front that would dig up the potatoes, and then a conveyor would pick them up and then they would go on another conveyor to remove the dirt clods. Unfortunately, it still took 4 people to operate it — three of them would stand at the top and remove the excess green plants and weeds. The harvester still dropped so many potatoes that Robert and Paul decided that they could harvest them faster by digging them up and going through the field with the field conveyor and about 8 people to pick up the potatoes. So, Paul and Robert didn’t use the potato harvester for very long!
1963 — Paul started going up to the Detroit market again, but this time he was trying to sell bedding plants rather than produce. In the beginning, they were only selling about 10 flats a day, but it eventually picked up. Paul & Helen’s son Michael (currently the Treasurer) was born on October 7.
1962 — In 1962, Paul and Robert started growing bedding plants. During this first year, they grew a lot of petunias, since they were really popular. It wasn’t long before they had 2 acres under glass (greenhouses) and 8,000,000 plants ready to deliver! They were still growing 60 acres of cabbage, 100 acres of potatoes, 5 acres of eggplant and 10 acres of peppers.
1960- 1961 — During this time period, the greenhouses were only used to store different produce that had already been harvested, and to grow vegetable transplants. However, by the end of 1961, they stopped growing vegetable transplants for the area farmers because they could be obtained at a lower price from the South. They continued to grow cabbage and pepper plants for themselves.
1959 — All of the cucumbers that were grown in these days were picked by hand and put into bushel baskets with lids that would then be loaded onto wagons. These baskets then had to be transported to the packing shed. Once there, the cucumbers were graded, washed, brushed and then dripped in wax. By the end of the 1950’s, different area farmers were starting to grow bedding plants and when Paul and Robert saw this trend, Paul started staying up at night to read about how to grow flowers. Robert and Aletha’s son Allen was born on January 14.
1958 — To harvest the cauliflower, they would go through the fields with knives and cut the heads and put them in crates as they went. They would leave the crates in the field and later someone would go through the fields and load the crates onto a wagon.
1957 — By now, Paul and Robert were growing cauliflower, sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes, seed tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and cabbage, which then yielded six hundred crates per acre. Robert and Aletha’s son Robert, the current President of Schmidt Bros. was born on January 4.
1955- 1956 — When Paul & Robert’s kids were growing up, they also worked on the farm on a regular basis. At about sixth grade, they would start to use a time card to punch in and their pay was $0.75 per hour. The boys would make a large number of sweet corn crates and they would cut cabbage. When they were in high school, they loaded the cabbage crates (which weighed about 65 pounds) into trucks and helped in the field.
1954 — A commission row is where growers would take their produce and sell it in large quantities to people who would then take it to their store to sell it. Most of the peppers they grew during this time were shipped to Pittsburgh, and the cabbage was sold in Cincinnati. Paul and Robert purchased their first semi-tractor and trailer in 1954, and when it was no longer used as a semi-tractor, they extended the back axle and made it into a dump truck in which they sterilized the dirt.
1953 — In 1953, Robert stopped going to the Detroit Eastern market but would then go to commission rows in the Chicago market and sell a whole truckload of produce. Back in those days, the turnpike wasn’t built, so the trip took a long time. This was also the year a new 275 foot well was installed for a better irrigation system. This irrigation system cost about $25,000 and distributed 20,000 gallons of water per hour for the crops. Paul and Helen’s son William (Bill) was born on March 21. He is currently Vice President of the company.
1952 — The number of greenhouses continued to grow, and they started selling vegetable transplants to other area farmers. The different vegetable transplants that were grown included cabbage, peppers, potato, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.
1951 — Up until this point, Paul & Robert purchased their vegetable transplants for their fields from Georgia, but by the time the transplants reached Northwest Ohio, they would be diseased or would die shortly after planting them in the ground. After the greenhouses and hot beds were constructed, they started growing their own vegetable transplants.
1950 — Uncle John decided to sell his three greenhouses and fifteen hot beds because he was getting too old to do the work. Paul and Robert decided to buy the greenhouses and hot beds for $4,000. The greenhouses were about 18 feet by 68 feet and the hot beds were small A frames about 10 feet wide and 1-1/2 feet deep. They tore down the greenhouses and hot beds and brought all the frames and glass over to some land they had purchased on Hallett Avenue, which is also the Fulton-Lucas County line road. They didn’t start to re-construct the greenhouses and hot beds in Lucas County until the day after Christmas. That winter was a very cold one so it was hard to erect them.
1948-1949 — Paul and Robert’s uncle John also owned a farm with a few greenhouses and he wanted them to come and be partners with him. However, Paul and Robert decided that they didn’t want to move; they wanted to be their own bosses plus they had already started their own business. During this time, they started putting tile in the fields to ensure a better crop production, and they bought a Potato Seed Cutter.
1947 — Paul & Helen added to the next generation with the birth of their son Joseph, who was born on August 25. The company also purchased a Chevy straight truck this year.
1946 — Paul & Robert’s mother, Hilda, and sister Mary Catherine moved out of the Scott Road farm house to the Parish house in Swanton where Hilda kept house for the parish priest.
1945 — During these early years, most of the produce was being sold at the Detroit Eastern Market. Some corn and wheat was sold to The Andersons in Maumee. Anything that didn’t sell was fed to the livestock. Paul married Helen F. Fritsch. Later in the year, Helen started taking care of the company payroll and related tax reports.
1944 — This was the year that Paul & Robert started doing business together and began to hire employees to help with the growing of the crops. Everything was done by hand back in these days. Paul and Robert’s brother James and some of Aletha’s brothers also helped out around the farm. The next generation also started in 1944 with the birth of Robert & Aletha’s son Lawrence in October. Lawrence is now semi-retired but still works for the company as a manager.
1943 — Robert married Aletha G. Vaughan and then Aletha became the company bookkeeper until 1985. They bought a new John Deere A with rubber wheels this year.
1941-1942 — Robert would usually travel to the Detroit Eastern market nearly every day to sell, while Paul stayed at home to work the farm. After their father Lawrence passed away in 1942, Paul and Robert continued to farm the land that belonged to their mother, Hilda. To harvest the sweet corn, they would hook up a sled to a horse and take him through the field and throw the ears onto the sled.
1939-1940 — Paul Schmidt dropped out of high school to run the family farm due to his father’s failing health. He then started taking produce up to the Detroit Eastern Market to sell. Robert also started helping out more on the farm. They stopped using horses on the farm in 1940 and the last year they had a horse on the farm was 1946.
1938 — The Schmidt Family farm grew corn, wheat, oats, hay, cabbage, muskmelons and seed potatoes. Most of these crops fed the dairy cattle, cattle, pigs and chickens that they raised on the farm.
1937 — Lawrence and Hilda Schmidt, along with their four children, Paul, Robert, James and Mary Catherine, moved from their home on Sylvania Avenue to a farm on Scott Road in Swanton. The farm was 91.6 acres and was purchased for $6,700. They had to travel on gravel roads using a horse and buggy during the spring. This made the move very difficult because of the muddy roads.
420 N Hallett Ave
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