In 1903, Leff Imler (Fred Sr.’s Great Great Uncle) operated a General Store in Rainsburg, Bedford County. He traded with farmers who brought in products to exchange for goods.
About 1915, Charles Imler (Fred Sr.’s Grandfather) purchased the business and continued with the operation.
In 1918, Charles and Minty Imler moved the business and the family to 58th Street in Altoona.
Even with the move, he still continued to do business with the farmers in Friends Cove, Bedford County. Hauling products to Altoona from Bedford County was a two-day trip by horse and wagon. Lester Imler (Fred Sr.’s Father) as a twelve-year-old boy would drive the wagon on the second leg of the journey from Claysburg to Altoona while his father came in on the train to rest and get ready to sell the products. Various products included, eggs, poultry, butter, vegetables, apple butter, and some livestock.
Charles Imler passed away in 1940. Lester assisted his mother in operations of the business. By this time, we were bringing poultry from West Virginia to be processed and sold by both wholesale and retail. During this time, Minty Imler retired and Lester was the owner. As the need for more turkeys of a superior quality continued, Lester began contracting with growers in the upper tract of West Virginia to grow birds for the business.
During the 40’s (war years), food rationing was a big problem to deal with. In 1947, we began a turkey growing operation locally on 6th Avenue road. Fred Imler Sr. had been working at the Farmer’s Market and traveling in the truck on the side since he was seven years old.
In 1951, after Fred Sr.’s graduation, he became a partner in the business with his brother Richard and father Lester. In addition to several retail locations, the wholesale business covered about a fifty-mile radius of Altoona. Over the years, the business continued to grow.
We continued growing turkeys, and hauling turkeys and chicken from West Virginia and Virginia to slaughter for retail and wholesale sales.
In his younger days, Fred Imler Sr. hard at work.
Lester Imler died in 1968, and Richard and Fred Sr. operated as partners until 1977. At that time, Richard wanted to devote all of his time to his Agway business and Fred Sr. purchased his interest and real estate.
Fred Imler II, the son of Fred Sr., was involved working in the business and after Fred Sr. had resolved the buyout; Fred II became a partner in the business.
Because of Industry changes, we were now buying our chicken already processed and were cutting the product to our customer’s specs. As KFC and other fast food groups opened we had more opportunity as suppliers.
After the 1979 growing season, Fred II convinced Fred Sr. to discontinue the growing and slaughtering of turkeys. Fred II wanted to move the focus of the business to expanding the business distribution volume. We needed more than just poultry on the trucks to get more volume per delivery.
During this time Karen Imler, daughter of Fred Sr., was working at the Farmer’s Market. As the business continued to grow, she became active in the daily office operations.
In 1980 the business name changed from Imler’s Turkey Farm to Imler’s Poultry.
In 1983 we were awarded distribution of approximately fifty Kentucky Fried Chicken locations, which dramatically increased our distribution area. We then needed to fill in with other business in these new areas that KFC now took us.
With an increase in sales staff in 1984, a red meat and a full deli line were added to the product list. Many renovations were made throughout the years to the 58th Street facility, but it was very clear that Imler’s Poultry had outgrown its warehouse. The business moved to 3421 Beale Avenue, Altoona.
In 1992, Imler’s Poultry Transportation Inc. was formed. There were several reasons for this, which benefited the Poultry Company both financially and legally. Now Imler’s not only hauled their products, but also started in the outside hauling business. Instead of driving a truck empty to the South, wood products and other items were now being shipped and income earned.
In June of 1999, Imler’s Poultry was awarded the USDA bid for distribution of government commodities to the Southwest Region of Pennsylvania, and in June of 2000, the Northwest Region of Pennsylvania was secured. Imler’s Poultry has proven their worth to the State of Pennsylvania by “Distinguishing itself among Pennsylvania’s contract distributors in the USDA program.” This quote came from Barry Shutt, then the Director for the USDA Program in Harrisburg.
Since 1982, Imler’s Poultry has been fortunate to achieve growth every year in pounds sold. Through all this expansion of volume, we were able to diversify the business, not putting too great a percentage of business on any one segment. All of this growth would not be possible without the dedication of our valued employees.
The facility at Beale Ave had two major additions including a 14,000 square foot freezer facility that was completed in 2002.
January – Successful bidder on our current facility at 1887 Rt 764 in Duncansville.
July – The final move of inventory and all operations were completed to our new facility on Rt 764.
The truck garage with wash bay facility was completed on Theater Drive above Imler’s Poultry. Fox & James moved their operations and began servicing all trucks from the new location.
The latest aerial shot taken of our warehouse, highlighting the growth of our facility and many other locally owned and operated businesses.
We celebrated 117 years in business this year and held our 10th annual food expo in October. What started with one horse drawn wagon delivering products has evolved into 56 long haul and delivery trucks on the road every day, servicing customers within a 250 mile radius of our facility. This could not have been achieved without a loyal customer base and solid relationships with our vendors. Imler’s Poultry treasures all the great partnerships that have developed over the years and has great expectations as to what can be accomplished together in the future.
Throughout the years of growth, the business has moved from generation to generation of the Imler family. Fred II and Bryan are both actively involved in the business and day to day operations. While the times are always changing, the business philosophy remains the same, “Quality products delivered fresh at competitive prices!”
On January 12, Fred Imler Sr. passed away at the age of 87. He was an instrumental part of the success of Imler’s Poultry and took great pride in seeing how far the business had come since its humble beginnings in 1903. He considered all of the employees an extension of his family and treated them as such. His warm smile and kind spirit will be greatly missed by everyone. Click here to read the full tribute.