Brothers Robert and Richard Bonenberger fell into the food service industry by unconventional means. Their father, John, co-founded Mahon-Bonenberger Packing Co. in 1952 — becoming sole owner 13 years later. After John’s sudden death in 1966, Robert and Richard took over the family business at the young ages of 22 and 17, changing the name to Farm Boy Food Service due to its broad recognition throughout the area (meats were sold under this label in local retail stores).
Today, Farm Boy has 25 refrigerated trucks delivering throughout Southern Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky. It is a full-line food service company, stocking more than 5,000 products and supplying fresh and frozen meats, seafood, entrees, pastries, produce, canned vegetables, dairy products, cleaning supplies, and paper products to restaurants, health care facilities, school food services, and contract feeders. Local businesses include Merry-Go-Round Restaurant, Western Ribeye & Ribs, Libby & Mom’s Café, and The Pie Pan.
In its early years of business, Farm Boy conducted its own meat slaughtering, including 1,200 to 1,500 hogs and two to three cattle a week. Robert and Richard often were directly involved with the slaughtering. Robert says he and his brother learned early on that the work had to be done, regardless of the conditions. In 1975, the brothers ended these operations due to the high costs, but continued to process and cure meat products. “We saw the writing on the wall and thought it best to invest in other areas,” says Robert, who is the company president.
Farm Boy became a part of Code Distributors, a co-op of area food distributors in Southern Indiana, in 1982, and quickly grew as it began distributing products with a focus on the pizza industry. Years later, Code and three other distributors merged together to form UniPro, the buying group that Farm Boy remains part of today. In 2000, Robert was appointed to the board of directors of UniPro, the largest food co-op in the United States. Farm Boy products are offered to the public at wholesale pricing at Farm Boy Food Mart, located next to the main Farm Boy facility at 2761 N. Kentucky Ave.
Entering into its second half-century of business, Farm Boy still is locally managed by the brothers and Robert’s son, Mark. They are a company marked by dedication and hard work. “When you get involved with your customers and you know them on a first-name basis,” says Robert, “you want to see the company continue and move forward.”
For more information on Farm Boy Food Service, call 812-425-5231 or visit www.farmboyfoodservice.com.