A family project for 10 years
Tami Jo Nix/The Madera Tribune
Jesse Kang, owner of 3V Feed, posts Independence Day sentiments and an invitation to his holiday barbecue at the feed store at 28342 Highway 145 in Madera.
The year 2007 was an auspicious one for the Jesse Kang family of Madera.
Kang worked as a respiratory therapist in Los Angeles for 15 years and his wife Nina was a registered nurse.
Dissatisfied with his career path and not wanting to raise their family in Los Angeles, the Kangs moved to Madera.
While the medical field allowed them to provide for their family, with three children to send to college, they made plans for their own business.
Jesse and Nina opened a feed store. When it came time to select a name for their new enterprise they chose 3V in honor of their children’s names — daughters, Veshudha, Vilaya and son Virat. Thus, 3V Feed and Supply Company was founded.
The business grew as their children were growing up. Their children attended local schools and worked in the store after school and weekends.
The business encompasses two land parcels split on both sides of the road at 28342 Highway 145. The property had two metal shop buildings, one of which is the former Gene’s Grinders, a drive-in hamburgersstand, remembered fondly by many in Madera.
“We hear all the time from our customers how good their food was,” said Virat.
The yards are covered in stacks totaling 200 tons of hay bales split about half and half between, oat and alfalfa hay, said Virat.
The family farms 40 acres of almonds, which is about 6,000 trees, Virat said. In the past, they have grown oat and Sudan grass hay on a 200-acre parcel. They own 160 acres and leased 180 acres in previous years.
“Alfalfa, a summer crop, is grown using flood irrigation,” he said. “Oat hay is a winter crop grown dry-land style, relying on rain for water.”
While flood irrigation has developed a negative perception, Virat said, its intrinsic value is how it recharges the aquifer.
3V Feed buys hay where is it less expensive to grow and arrange to have it shipped to local and out-of-state customers.
Over the July 4 holiday weekend, the company celebrated its 10th anniversary, traditionally marked with tin or aluminum.
Independence Day saw its annual customer appreciation all-American style barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers.
The Kang children grew up working in the family feed store.
The girls followed their parents into the medical field. Veshudha is studying to be a physician’s assistant and Vilaya is a registered nurse working the trauma center at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. Son Virat, 19, attends U.C. Davis, studying agriculture engineering.
“I started working at the store after school in the fifth grade,” said Virat. “I could barely see over the counter, but I would wait on the customers and ring up their purchases.”
Their children own stock in the family business and in the corporation, said Kang who is the corporate president.
“The family doesn’t worry about who owns what as we all work together to make the business a success,” said Virat.
Since moving to Madera, the Kangs raised a mix of livestock, goats, sheep, peacocks, lowline miniature Angus cattle, chickens and geese.
In addition to various farm animal feed, the store sells domestic chickens, ducks, rabbits and game birds. The rabbits come from breeders and the birds are bought from hatcheries.
“Hatching 10,000 chicks a year and incubating our own birds was too much,” Virat said.
The cost of a single two or three week-old duckling is about $6, the rabbits $10 to $15, and chicks $1 to $3.50, depending on the breed and gender, he said.
“We sell the pullets,” Kang said “The female birds are pullets, the males are cockerels and the straight run flocks, a mixture of the two,” he said. “We carry specialty birds, rare breeds of guineas, turkeys, pheasants and even pigeons on request from customers.”
Kang and his son literally developed the place from scratch.
“Before we opened, my dad and I would be out here every evening parking a truck of hay, using a tractor scraping ground for the parking lot, taking out eucalyptus trees,” said Virat.
They have seven employees, including a ranch foreman.
“We want people to know that we don’t compromise on quality and we stretch ourselves to get the best quality merchandise at an affordable price for the community,” said Virat.
Virat also created a signature game bird feed mix. The 3V specialty feed is mixed from his formula based on a desired protein level and vitamins. Working with their feed manufacturer and its labs made only minor adjustments and they now produce the feed exclusively for the 3 V Feed and Supply, he said.