"The high paced ever changing field of foodservice will be our challenge in the future. The dream started by Ben McDonald has continued now through four generations. Our vision has always been to serve our customers as best as we can. We will continue to update our procedures and give our customers the most up to date products and service that the industry can provide. As we think back to that young man riding the horse from Big Piney to Springfield, we know he had a vision. SGC Foodservice continues to pursue that vision today."
Springfield Grocer Company was founded in 1865 and later incorporated in 1889. In the beginning it was more of a dry goods company, selling to farmers, early settlers, and city folk alike. The country was rebuilding after a long and tragic Civil War. Springfield Grocer Company is Springfield’s oldest surviving continuously operating business institution, preceding the Frisco Railroad which became a part of Burlington Northern.
As time passed, delivery practices improved. In 1930, Ben McDonald initiated the first weekly door-to-door truck delivery to area grocers. With 25 salespeople on the road and trucks with the Yellow Bonnet Girl beaming from their sides, Springfield Grocer Company was a symbol of pride and progress. Successfully seeing the company through the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s & early 1950s, Ben McDonald met an untimely death in 1954 at the age of 62. Malvenia Steineger McDonald succeeded her husband as President of Springfield Grocer Company until her son-in-law, Walker Aubrey Tynes assumed the position in 1955.
The current ownership of the company was consolidated under the late Ben McDonald, great grandfather of current owner Jeff Tynes. Ben came from near Big Piney, a small country town in the area near current Fort Leonard Wood. In 1924 after serving his country in the Army Air Corp during WW I, attaining the rank of Captain, he returned to become a buyer and assistant manager at Springfield Grocer Company. By 1925 he held the position of general manager and by 1928 he was named President, General Manager & Treasurer. In 1929, as our country was perched on the edge of the Great Depression, the boy who rode his horse to Springfield became the major stockholder of his firm. This company and his community were destined to profit from McDonald’s new responsibility and role.
Walker Aubrey Tynes had served his country during WW II as a Marine, serving in the South Pacific for 26 months and attaining the rank of Captain. He received two presidential citations and five major battle stars for his service to our country. With the sudden death of Ben McDonald, Walker moved to Springfield in 1954 with his young family after selling his family’s business in Dallas, Texas. He assumed the position of President of Springfield Grocer Company in 1955 where he continued to operate the business that had been mapped out by his father-in-law. The 1950s and 1960s saw much growth in Springfield as well as Springfield Grocer Company. Walker steered the company forward until his untimely death in 1969 at age at age 50. At this time his wife, Suzanne McDonald Tynes took over as President.
In the early years, a Springfield Grocer salesperson would ride their horse or buggy or take the train into an outlying town and work for a week taking orders from all the merchants in the area. These orders were then assembled at the warehouse in Springfield and shipped in one loaded rail car to the town where the salesman had worked. When the car arrived and was placed on the rail siding, each merchant would come, open the car, pick the items he had ordered from the rail car, load it on his wagon and haul it to his own store or warehouse.
In the beginning, Springfield Grocer stocked everything from ammunition to barb wire to clothing to school supplies. In fact, if you visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Mansfield, Missouri you can see several of her original manuscripts for her “Little House on the Prairie” series of books which were written on Springfield Grocer Company’s 50/50 tablets. Over two generations ago, Springfield Grocer company’s private label, the Yellow Bonnet Girl was everywhere - on match boxes, containers of syrup, bottles of grape juice, jars of salad dressing, on coffee and cocoa labels, and on about any staple grocery item.
Springfield Grocer Company roasted and packaged its own coffee. Old-Timers can still recall the aroma and taste of Yellow Bonnet Coffee, Sunshine Coffee, Blue Bonnet Coffee and Good Morning Coffee with mouth-watering nostalgia. In 1940, Springfield Grocer Company could boast that “Sunshine Coffee has been on the air continuously longer than any other product advertising over KWTO and KGBX”. The original marble top coffee tasting table still sits in the waiting area of our present location!
Suzanne McDonald Tynes deserves a great deal of credit for modernizing and changing the focus and direction of the legendary old firm. In 1972 the firm dropped all retail grocery store accounts in order to narrow their sales focus to concentrate exclusively on foodservice and institutional sales in the area.
The Springfield Grocer of this new century is hardly recognizable now as the same prominent business institution that operated so long ago on Boonville not far from the Square. The current facility is a high cube, one-story, well-lit and highly functional warehouse. Everything is completely computerized. All building temperatures are constantly monitored, inventory transactions instantly updated and vehicle movements are constantly tracked. The business is so fast and ever-changing that the new equipment and programs are relentlessly being evaluated and re-evaluated. The purchasing staff regularly reviews market trends and new items. The sales staff is constantly educated and trained in a wide range of foodservice and distribution disciplines including ServSafe certification training and several who have received Sales Certifications from the Culinary Institute of America. We believe these are some of the ways Springfield Grocer can contribute to our customer’s success in today’s highly competitive environment.