- Your Town
Fox grain elevator renovated and open for business
A beautiful piece of history now a functional fertilizer business, the grain elevator in Fox has recently opened to serve the needs of farmers and ranchers in surrounding areas. Owner of Beartooth Fertilizer Inc., Chris Skorupa and partner John Stampfel bought the property in December and have been since working hard to renovate the historical landmark to make it more customer friendly and easily accessible.
Skorupa explained that the elevator was a, “fine functioning facility” but needed some TLC for the company to operate successfully. To do such, Skorupa and his team of workers had to remodel and reconstruct certain parts of the building.
“We remodeled the office in order to have a work environment that is conducive to year round work. We felt that our customers will now have a place to stop and visit about their needs in a more comfortable environment,” Skorupa said.
Built in the 1940’s, the tunnel of the elevator was meant to provide grain to farmers travelling by horse and buggy. Because trucks now are much larger, Skorupa needed to raise the tunnel 2.5 ft. to efficiently unload products brought into the elevator. He further had to restore the roof to protect the top of the structure and replace all upper windows to provide natural light and ventilation.
Initially constructed for grain supply, longtime Red Lodge resident and former owner of the elevator Mark Vincent explained that wagons used to haul grain into it, as it was the only way for the people to store or sell their grain.
“In the early days it acted as feed store. It was a place for people to sell their grain. The railroads would go through there and the grain was shipped out on a rail,” Vincent said.
In the 1970’s, Vincent said it was converted into a fertilizer plant, where it functioned along with the rail system, supplying local farmers and ranchers. Successful as it was in the past, Skorupa saw an opportunity for his business to thrive.
Because of the central location and desire to succeed in the agricultural business, Skorupa and Stampfel bought the property from Eric Indreland and Charles Hall. With the many changes, the company can now successfully service customers in the Stillwater Valley, Rock Creek Drainage, Clarks Fork Valley, and the Yellowstone Valley.
Skorupa explained Beartooth Fertilizer Inc. as, “a full retail crop nutrition company. Our services include custom application of fertilizer as well as a spreader trailer service that allows our customers to spread product themselves.”
A family man, whose passion for agriculture dates back to memories of his grandfather and father working on their ranch in Bridger, Skorupa hopes to build a sustainable business that can be passed onto his children and onto future generations interested in agriculture.
With the help of his mother’s “endless amount of energy” and the support of his wife and three children, Skorupa is confident his business can satisfy customer needs and help sustain the agricultural business as it continues to be a crucial part of the Montana’s society and economy.
As a way to invite community members to see the renovations, the company is hosting an open house on April 3 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. All are welcome to enjoy coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and good conversation. For more information about Beartooth Fertilizer Inc., please call 406-425-3082.