The ABCs of Lowell History: P is for Produce Warehouse

The ABCs of Lowell History is back for another round. This popular series explores a wide variety of topics in Lowell area history in weekly online articles.

P is for Produce Warehouse

Loveland & Hinyan was a wholesale produce company that began in Lowell. When the company was sold in 1920 it had grown to over 40 warehouses and was considered one of the largest produce suppliers in Michigan.

Ralph Loveland began in the grocery business on the west end of Lowell, at 301 West Main, with his partner George Force. Loveland & Force sold the grocery business in 1901 to Price & Covert in order to pursue selling produce wholesale. They began building a warehouse west of the grocery store. In 1902, George Force sold his interest in the company to F.W. Hinyan. The company grew rapidly and by 1909 Loveland & Hinyan had moved to Grand Rapids.

Ralph Loveland

In 1909 Ralph Loveland died suddenly at the age of 47. His son Glenn, at only twenty years old, continued the partnership with Hinyan.

The company was recognized as a leader in the field. The news media came to the company to speak on issues. This included speaking out on unsafe practices in other states with chemicals ‘poured over the fruit’. The company sought to educate the public and proudly proclaimed that Michigan fruit was the best.

When, in 1910, farmers banded together to try and raise the price of potatoes, it was Loveland & Hinyan that the newspapers talked with for information and explanation of the issues. As explained by Hinyan, the farmers’ attempt for higher prices did not work, as supply far outweighed demand at the time.

In 1915, the company suffered a devastating fire that began with an oil stove. Hinyan went into the fire to fight it and sustained burns on his face and his hair and eyebrows were singed.

Hinyan was well known in Lowell, Alto, Grand Rapids, and the state as he served as President of the Michigan Potato Shippers Association and Director of the City State Bank of Lowell. Hinyan was part of a partnership that platted the north side of 60th Street in Alto. Both Hinyan and Ralph Loveland served on the board of directors and were original stockholders in the Lowell Specialty Company which later became Root Lowell. Incidentally, the company was formed by produce growers and farmers who saw the need for insect control.

In August of 1920, it was reported that “Loveland & Hinyan Company, one of the largest operators in potatoes in the state, sold its string of about 40 warehouses and elevators to Carl Reiner and Clyde Dennis. Loveland & Hinyan was established about 20 years ago.” Upon selling the business Hinyan moved to California, selling his 110-acre farm in Alto to his partner, Glenn Loveland. Loveland went on to farm the land and became involved in the farming community, serving on the Kent County Dairy Committee.

Today this beautiful house and farm still stands in Alto and if walls could talk, they would tell the story of a produce company that began in Lowell, moved to Grand Rapids, but made an impression statewide!

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