Mar-Vo Mineral Co., Inc. has begun production in downtown Hillsdale within the last month on their deer growth supplements for hunters throughout the U.S.
“We’ve been blessed with a lot of growth, and it’s been very fulfilling. We’re really pleased to be a part of the city now; we’ve been out in the country,” said owner and president of Mar-Vo David Wheeler. “This is giving us the opportunity to meet a lot of people, and interact with a lot of other businesses in the area. It gives us, obviously, a lot more opportunity for growth because of the size of this facility.”
The company primarily produces minerals for hunters to use on their properties to help whitetail deer grow stronger and larger. Their product, Lucky Buck Mineral, contains trace elements that specifically encourage deer antlers growth.
Mar-Vo has been in the Hillsdale area for 85 years, but in 1995, Wheeler bought the company, which was based in two old barns in Osseo. At that time, the company produced minerals for dairy cows, which is Wheeler’s background.
For the first few years, Wheeler would mix minerals at night and deliver the finished product during the day. He hired his first employee a year later.
“We had one or two employees for the first ten years or so,” Wheeler said. “And it kept going, but we developed the deer mineral, and that’s what really made the substantial growth.”
The company took off in 2001, when a deer with world record antler size was killed by Hillsdale resident Vic Bulliner in Hillsdale County. The record-breaking whitetail had been eating Lucky Buck for two years, and the company has been using the “Vic Bulliner buck” ever since as proof that its product works.
“It was the marketing opportunity of a lifetime,” Wheeler said.
The marketing is working because Lucky Buck is now sold nationwide at several chain stores.
“We’re probably in five to six thousand stores in the United States,” said Ron Coe, office manager and second-in-command. “We’re in Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, and Tractor Supply Co.”
The company sold over 200,000 buckets of Lucky Buck, 20 pounds of minerals in each, amounting to more than 4 million pounds of the product last year alone. Lucky Buck makes up 95 percent of the company’s sales, but it also offers other products for sheep and hens.
The move downtown has helped with space problems, Wheeler said. He recalled six semi-trucks waiting in a line to get filled because they didn’t have the space to ship all the mineral. Now they have plenty of room.
The company now employs ten people from around the area. Austin Wolcott is one of these employees, and has worked at Mar-Vo for two years as an assistant to production.
Wolcott says he began using Lucky Buck on his property when he started working for Mar-Vo and is hopeful for significant results on the deer’s antler sizes.
“We should be starting to see a change here pretty soon,” Wolcott said.
Wheeler and Coes both travel to shows around the country to show off Lucky Buck and the results that it has. Wheeler has the Vic Bulliner buck standing in his office, and there is a trophy room full of replica antlers that demonstrate the effects of Lucky Buck over a few years. “Mar-Vo is pretty busy right now with the hunting shows, but will be producing the most in June, July, and August,” Wheeler said.
Hunting season, however, is relatively easy on their end.
“During hunting season, it’s more of just keeping watch for our customers who are coming back to us with new testimonials and new examples of success,” Wheeler said.