From Campbell Supply to Cam Spray

posted on Thursday, April 5, 2018

John and Jim Campbell founded Campbell Supply Company in 1963 when they noticed a pattern emerging among their customers.

Their family’s business, Campbell Supply Co. in Iowa Falls, had several local farmers and industrial accounts who were buying separate parts and attempting to build their own pressure washers at home. They inevitably returned to the store, seeking advice on assembly.

The Campbell brothers realized they could better serve their customers by building pressure washer options in store and that’s how today’s Cam Spray got its start.

Jim Gillespie and the team at Cam Spray are a testament to how strong family ties are between the family-run business and the agriculture industry it serves, including companies like Iowa Select Farms.

“If you go back to the roots of our business and our relationships, Iowa Select was one of the first in the industry,” recalled Jim. “We’re both from Iowa Falls and as a result have developed a working relationship that goes beyond our businesses.

The connections we’ve established make us more of a family working together, and we appreciate that.” In fact, some of Jim’s earliest memories are of his family picking up ears of corn the picker had missed during harvest, alongside the Hansen family of Iowa Select.

“When I think back on it,” recalls Jim, “going out and picking up corn, that’s the way agriculture was back then. And you still see that, if a neighbor’s machinery breaks down, four other guys go help him out. That relationship stuff is still there, which is cool, because I don’t see that in the other industries that we serve.”

Cam Spray currently has 24 employees internally, with an additional independent sales people. Jim came on board initially as a high schooler in 1979, washing vehicles part-time. He married John’s daughter, Karen, and has been committed to the family and the business ever since, running the company with the late Jim Campbell’s son, Bob.

The team around them have a deep commitment to the community as well. The company’s service manager, Carey French, grew up in Alden and started right out of high school working on repairs. Bill Jensen, the production manager, grew up in a local farming family and still farms today.

“The roots of our business are in the ag industry,” explained Jim. “What we’ve learned from our relationship with Iowa Select is how to better serve our customers. The pork industry alone now makes up 20% of our business and nearly all of our employees grew up on farms in Hardin County and continue to live here today. Agriculture will always be a huge part of who we are.”

Cam Spray has been able to stay strong in recent years, avoiding the economic dip that has impacted much of the agriculture industry. It’s largely due to the fact that their products are a necessity for businesses to maintain their equipment and commitment to animal health and well-being.

“Companies like Iowa Select provide stability to small, rural communities that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” continued Jim. “When Cam Spray started everything we did was tied to the ag industry. It’s where we cut our teeth, so to speak, and that stability is what has allowed us to diversify our business in the last 30 years.”

As for the future of Cam Spray? David, Mark, and Steve, Jim Gillespie’s brothers in-law, are involved in the business. Along with David’s two sons, Jake and Jason, and Jim and Karen’s son, Drew.

The 3rd-generation of the family has proven to be dedicated to ensuring the success of the family’s business.