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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at 7:55 PM

Kent's Celebrates 125 Years

The Legacy of Kent’s Supply Center
Kent's Celebrates 125 Years
IH Kent's moving to Fallon.
Photos courtesy of Kent's Supply.

Karla Kent has been guiding Kent’s Supply Center since 1984 when she became president of the company. She took over and continued in the footsteps of Ira Heber Kent, the founder, and her great-grandfather.

The original Kent’s Supply was started in 1892 in Stillwater, Nevada, by Ira Heber Kent, better known as I.H. Kent. At the time, Stillwater was the county seat of Churchill County. In 1906, the local government moved the county seat to Fallon. Kent moved the store to Fallon, knowing that was where the business would be. A small building was placed on skids and pulled by a 20-horse and mule team to where it sets today. This was no easy feat, as the roads from Stillwater into Fallon were not much more than wagon ruts. It would take five days to complete the move to Maine Street.

Ira would make Kent’s Store a thriving business. He supplied farmers, ranchers, townspeople, and businesses with feed, lumber, and, at that time, a grocery store, much as they still do today.

Fairview Mine was one of the businesses with a line of credit at the store. In 1915, the mine experienced some hard times, and the owner owed Ira Kent money. The two business owners struck a deal. If the mine owner gave Ira their warehouse building, it would satisfy the account, and with that, the building needed to be moved to Fallon. The building was disassembled, transported by railroad in small sections, and reconstructed in town. Thus, the historic warehouse at I.H. Kent Company came to be, with the building remaining on the property today.

Ira Longfellow Kent would be the next generation; in 1948, he would take over where his dad left off and build the business by adding a grain mill. The mill would buy feed and grain locally from the farmers and ranchers to be milled and mixed into grains for cow or horse feed, then resold or shipped out by rail to other destinations. The store would give the people selling their products to the mill a line of credit to cover their needed supplies until the next harvest year.

Thomas Kent led the store starting in 1965, taking over from his dad. He continued to buy local feed and process grains that were bagged and resold locally or shipped to other destinations. Unfortunately, the mill was shut down in 1975 as it became too expensive to keep and maintain. He began stocking building materials for homes and businesses developing in the Fallon area.

Karla Kent has been president of the corporation since 1984. Starting out of high school in 1978, she began learning the business from her dad, learning trends and new ways of doing business all along the way. She has led the company through one of the biggest building booms Fallon has seen in its 132 years. Contractors locally and in surrounding areas, as well as “do-it-yourselfers,” have used Kent’s Supply Center for all their construction needs.

Of course, she did not turn away from what built the company. Bagged animal feed is still a staple at Kent’s Supply Center.

Below: Kents who have taken the reins and built a legacy.