Sixteen years ago, an opportunity to diversify into an agri-business venture presented itself to Tripp Farms of Griffithville, Ark.
The owners of Searcy Farm Supply in Searcy, Ark., were considering getting out of the business and the partners of Tripp Farms LLC, jumped at the opportunity to purchase the business.
The opportunity came at a good time for the partners of Tripp Farms LLC: Billy Ray Tripp, his son Billy W. Tripp and daughter-in-law Kim, as the farm operation was looking to expand their real estate holdings while expanding their other operations.
At the time, the Tripps farmed a variety of row crops, raised cattle and operated a large agriculture flying service. Searcy Farm Supply provided another piece of the puzzle to become a full-service integrated farm supplier.
Like most other industries, agriculture has changed rapidly over the last decade and a half since the Tripps purchased Searcy Farm Supply.
The flying service was discontinued in 2008 due to the high cost of aircraft maintenance and insurance. The drought of 2012 and the collapse of the cattle market gave the Tripps cause to exit the cattle market.
Because of their success in growing corn, the Tripps decided three years ago to grow corn exclusively on their 1,800 farmable acres (total acres is approximately 2,200). A decision that works extremely well with Searcy Farm Supply.
“We know we can grow corn,” said Billy W. Tripp. “We’ve got plenty of water, we’ve got plenty of fertilizer nearby, both natural and commercial, and retailing the corn through the store lets us get a premium over the cash market. With the markets like they are now, we need every penny we can get.”
Although the farm operation has changed over the last few years, the Tripps have continued to purchase neighboring acreage, while letting go of rented land. The entire farm operation lies in one contiguous block, which lends itself to more efficient farming, especially water management.
The addition of a 100,000-bushel grain bin in the summer of 2015 gives the farm a total storage capacity of 220,000 bushels, which is a big advantage in marketing and storing crops at harvest. The continued expansion of Tripp Farms is two-fold: economies of scale for more efficient productions, and expansion to make room for the Tripps’ 14-year old son Tate, who will continue the Tripp Farms legacy.
Every acre is irrigated with either flood irrigation or center pivots. The farm also has an extensive tail-water recovery system to allow the farm to catch water from irrigation or rainfall and store it in several reservoirs for recycling. Even with 10-plus inches of rain over last winter, Tripp Farms was able to capture most of that water, pump up their reservoirs, and are now using that water to irrigate their crops. As mentioned by Billy W., corn requires a lot of fertilizer. The natural fertilizer is provided by dozens of new broiler houses, which have been built in the Griffithville, Okla., area in the last couple of years. They also use commercial fertilizer.
“I think being farmers ourselves really helps us stay connected with our customers,” according to store manager Kim Tripp. “We are involved in farm decisions every day and while each farm is different, we compare notes with our customers to see what works and what doesn’t.”
When it comes to corn, the Tripps must be doing something right. After placing second in 2014, Billy W. Tripp won the Arkansas State yield contest with per acre yield of 343 bushels with Dekalb DKC67-72 variety.
“I knew we had some good corn last year,” Billy said. “It has been tough the last couple springs trying to get planted with the cool wet weather. But we hit some good growing weather later on and the corn really came on.”
A big part of Searcy Farm Supply’s success is its people. From the inside sales people, to the office staff, to the warehouse and fertilizer personnel, each employee understands the business and the priority to take care of the customer.
“Our people know most of our customers by name,” Kim said.” They greet them by name when they enter the store and wish them a great day on the way out. Customer service is a natural for our people and it shows. They do a great job for us.”
The Tripps are also avid hunters, which is evident by the trophy mounts found on the walls of their business. Being hunters themselves, they cater to other hunters with items such as deer corn, food plot supplies and feeders.
Billy W. and Kim have a 585-acre tract of land that is reserved exclusively for the conservation and food plot management of whitetail deer and other game.


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