The head of one of the state’s most recognizable stores is stepping down.
Robert Blain, president, CEO and co-owner of Blain Supply and Blain’s Farm & Fleet, announced he will retire from the companies in June. Blain’s sister, Jane Blain Gilbertson, will succeed her brother effective immediately and become sole owner with a formal transition taking place over the next few weeks, the company said in a release.
“I leave here firmly believing that these companies are well on their way to a very bright future, and Jane will continue to provide the stewardship for the people who depend on it for their livelihood and the communities that it serves,” Robert Blain, 61, said.
Blain has been with the companies for 38 years and was named president in 1993 after the death of his father, Bert Blain. During his tenure, stores were opened in seven new markets bringing the number of stores in the company to 35 in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. The company also replaced eight stores with new facilities and saw the number of employees grow to more than 4,000 from 2,787 in 1993. A 36th store will open this fall in Dubuque, Iowa.
“This has always been a family business, and it will continue to be a strong, family owned business,” said Blain Gilbertson, 53, who has worked for the company for 29 years.
Bert Blain founded Farm & Fleet in 1955 with his brother Claude Blain. The Madison store on Stoughton Road opened in 1962, and the Verona store in 2008. The company has no affiliation with Mills Fleet Farm.