If you can remember fender skirts, whitewall tires and flat top haircuts, you might remember that January of 2014 marks Kenneth Durst's 50th anniversary with Mason Feed Store (and Kenneth still has the flat top haircut).
In an age where change is normal and expected, it is rare to have the dedication that Kenneth has demonstrated. In 1964, Marvin McMillan and Victor Lehmberg recognized the need for additional management in a business that was rapidly expanding. At that time, Mason County agriculture was broad based, with an expanding swine business, sheep and goat industry, and cattle. Mason Feed Store was located in the building across the street. The Feed Store bought hogs from the public every Monday and shipped them to Swift & Company at the Fort Worth Stockyards from the pens that now house Owen Cattle Company. There were hogs being fattened west of Mason adjacent to the present Mason County Feeders facility. Buying and selling wool and mohair was also an important part of the business, with pecans to a smaller degree. Feed was being manufactured in a feed mill located just north of the Mason square and delivered by bulk auger trucks.
After graduating from Texas A&M University in 1962, Kenneth moved to Winters, Texas, as an Ag teacher. In 1964, he moved to Mason to start a new career at Mason Feed Store. He rolled up his sleeves and got started. In 1965, Mason Feed Store moved into their current location in order to have the space to accommodate the growing business. Kenneth was involved in every aspect of the operation. The only time away from the store was for community involvement and his love for hunting. Kenneth served on the School Board, Mason Jr. Livestock Show and Jaycees to name a few. He still made time for his passion, hunting in Colorado.
The 70s, 80s and 90s were years of transition for Mason County agriculture, for Mason Feed Store, and for Kenneth. Fertilizer sales and delivery, agricultural spraying, liquid feed sales, and the steady decline of the swine business and wool and mohair business required new skills and effort. One part of the transition was easy for Kenneth. In 1964, lease hunting was only a minor part of most ranch income and the concept of feeding deer corn and using permanent blinds was as unheard of as cell phones and computers. Kenneth was the leader in making the Feed Store a hunting headquarters. Most of the trophy heads displayed are from Kenneth's personal collection. His advice on deer feed, feeders and blinds is sought after by many hunters. Today, hunting leases are more valuable than grazing leases and the Feed Store sells more deer feed than cattle feed.
Mason Feed Store can trace its roots to 1935. Various members of the Marvin McMillan family have held ownership interest since 1954. Kenneth's 50 years of service has outlasted all others and Lee and Bobbie and all the staff at Mason Feed Store invite the public to come by for a reception honoring Kenneth's golden anniversary on January 16th during business hours.