Fox Valley Pheasant Farm becomes Fox Valley Wood Products
Norbert, the son of Martin Van Zeeland, succeeded his immigrant father in taking over the family farm and homestead in rural Kaukauna. Through a love for the outdoors, Norbert and his brothers founded “Fox Valley Pheasant Farm”, raising game birds to sell to sporting clubs and state conservation departments, as well as New York night clubs and restaurants in the 1950s and 60s.
With the birds housed in wooden pens, Norbert and his six sons became quite accustomed to assembling wood crate-style pheasant pens.
A New Business is Born: “Fox Valley Crate Company”
Through his connection with Badger Northland, a local implement manufacturer, Norbert embarked on a new business. Badger Northland needed crates to ship its products across the country, and knew that the Van Zeeland boys were just the people for the job. In 1963 the brothers began building shipping crates in a pole shed behind their dairy farm.
All of Norbert’s sons were involved in the business in one capacity or another. They worked nights and weekends building crates the old fashioned way, fireutilizing only hammers and nails. The company began to expand to other wooden products as they supplied pallets to local castings company Neenah Foundry.
In 1968 Norbert unexpectedly passed away at the age of 55. A short time later, a fire destroyed the pole shed manufacturing facility. The boys were now in their teens and twenties. Some tough decisions were now at hand.
New Building, New Name. “Fox Valley Wood Products”
Tom, Don and Dale took the business to the next level in 1970 by building a 6,000 square foot manufacturing building on neighboring property and re-named the business Fox Valley Wood Products. The youngest son Roger began working full time for the company following high school.
Throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, the four brothers built the company into a multimillion dollar operation. This included several building expansions and manufacturing upgrades.
The Next Generation…
As the third generation became teenagers, they also got involved in the business. Following the completion of their college degrees and the retirement of their uncle Tom, Travis and Jeff began to work full time on the production floor in 1996. It was an opportunity and a test to see if the next generation could take the reins by learning from the ground up. Over time, Jeff became the sales and customer service manager. Travis’s position evolved to pallet production manager / shipping and receiving supervisor.
In 2005 Don reduced his hours in preparation for retirement. He continues to help the company on special projects and consultation. Dale plans to continue with the business for several more years and is currently the primary lumber buyer for the company.
Being a third generation company, Fox Valley Wood Products is fortunate to have had great examples of hard working, dedicated fathers. They have provided the tools to take this company into a successful future.
The most important virtues gleaned from their experience have been: how to serve our customers, how to treat our employees, and what it takes to operate a successful business.
Choose Us For:
- Same Day Quotes
- Same Day Delivery
- Quality Fabrications
- Diversified Product Mix
- Competitive Prices
- Employee Experience
- Employee Retention Near 100%