TAILS FROM THE TRAILS
So I was driving along Okeechobee Blvd. in Loxahatchee Groves one day, and couldn’t help but notice the signs placed out between A and B Roads: The British Hay Company had hay for sale at reasonable prices. Naturally, I had to stop in.
The business is the brainchild of Tim Hart-Woods, who has lived in South Florida for two years. Originally from Yorkshire, he previously lived in Costa Rica for a year, and Spain for eight. His background is in sales and marketing, and he only became involved with horses and began riding five years ago when he met his wife, Loring, who owns horses and runs a barn.
“This whole thing got started when I met Kent Brown, who used to sell hay off the back of his truck,” Tim explained. “Loring bought from him, and we got to talking. He brings the hay down from New York. We liked his hay. It was good, cheap and organic, and that’s a unique selling point, organic.”
Tim checked out other feed stores in the area, and there was very little information available about organic hay.
“To be certified organic, one needs a National Organic Program Certification certificate, and Kent had that,” he said. “I told Kent I’d buy all his hay, and we went into business. He supplies the product, and I have the magic, unlocking-door accent.”
Such was the start of a business.
“Loring was thrilled. She uses 70 bales a month, and now we had an endless supply of hay,” Tim said. “So Kent came back with a load of hay two weeks later, and parked it on D Road. He told me he’d been talking to someone. I wondered who else was involved, but then he told me he’d been talking to God. Kent’s very religious. Kent said God gave him a good feeling about the whole venture, that we should set up a company and open a hay store.”
Of course, Tim wasn’t sure exactly how far he wanted this venture to go.
“I was retired. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. I wondered, do I have one last adventure in me? I’d have the overhead of an actual premises, and I’d have to be there at all hours,” he said. “Did I really want to do this? Obviously, I did, for now we have the British Hay Company.”
Kent’s job is to locate and buy good-quality hay and ensure a steady supply. Tim does the marketing and deals with the customers.
They opened Nov. 1, renting the property. Business has been brisk from the start — 2,100 cars drive past their location each day, many of them people who own horses. The signs were eye-catching. Their first month was surprisingly successful.
“Our first month, we doubled what Kent used to make selling off the back of his truck. The second month went thermonuclear,” Tim said. “I told Kent that at our current rate of sale, we’ll sell all the hay by the end of January. We needed more suppliers. I asked him to find additional growers, even if it’s not organic, as long as it’s high quality.”
The British Hay Company offers a variety of hay in different-sized bales. The orchard grass/timothy mix goes $11 for a 45-pound bale and $12 for a 50-pound bale. Straight orchard grass is $13 for a 50-pound bale, and timothy and alfalfa 60-pound wire bales are $14. Larger bales go for more: 65-pound bales of orchard grass/timothy/alfalfa are $15, and 50-pound bales of straight orchard grass/alfalfa are $16. Not all the hay is organic.
“We have hay scales right here, and anyone’s welcome to weigh any bales,” Tim said. “We also have 40-pound orchard grass/timothy bales for $10. This stuff comes in and goes right out. It helps horse owners who are scraping by, having a tough time finding the funds to feed their horses.”
Tim offers free delivery within 10 miles of the store, or if you buy in bulk and live farther away. They’re open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. They accept all major credit cards and have a “no quibble” guarantee: You can bring back 80 percent of any bale you don’t like and get a new one, no argument.
“We try to make it easy for people,” Tim said. “It’s all about service. If you look after your clients, the business will come.”
Nicole Neil of Loxahatchee is a regular customer. She owns two Thoroughbreds.
“I’ve gotten hay from them multiple times,” Nicole said. “The hay is good quality, the horses love it, and I like the customer service. We saw the sign a couple of months ago and stopped in. Now, we never go anywhere else. People should definitely stop by and check it out.”
For more information, call the British Hay Company at (561) 633-6003 or visit www.thebritishhaycompany.com.