Whether donating power equipment or offering students a “realistic” industry perspective, Jeff Voss devotes his time and resources to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The college congratulates Jeff, who recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his business, Voss Bros. Power Equipment.
His three stores offer sales of new and used equipment as well as rental, repair and maintenance services.
Faculty and students are grateful for alumni like Jeff, who graduated in 1981 from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Mechanization and Systems. Through his store, he has donated equipment to Farm Science Review and to the university.
In addition to gifts-in-kind, Jeff returns to campus regularly, serving on the advisory committee to the Agricultural Systems Management. He helps review curriculum, serves on panels of professionals who discuss the agriculture industry with Ohio State students, and conducts mock interviews.
“Jeff is a charismatic guy who loves to 'tell it how it is'. I appreciate his willingness to speak with our students and share his personal experiences. He is a devoted supporter of our program and our college,” said Andrew “Dewey” Mann, a lecturer and research assistant in Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering who serves as advisor to the Agricultural Systems Management Club.
Jeff enjoys sharing his insights with students on entrepreneurship, leveraging equity, and staffing.
“I look forward to going down and meeting the students. I’m one of the guys still in the trenches, so I bring a realistic picture of the marketplace,” Jeff said. “I always think it’s good to pay back, and it’s fun to be affiliated with the university.”
When he first graduated from the college, the agriculture industry was at its lowest point since the Great Depression, he said. His first job was behind the parts counter for a $5.66 per hour at a store in Circleville.
Jeff spent several years working for New Holland Farm Equipment. He advanced in the company to positions that brought greater managerial responsibility and travel. Those opportunities provided experiences and a knowledge base that eventually gave him the confidence to go out on his own, he said.
“I learned a lot on someone else’s nickel.”
He started his business in a storage cubicle in the front section of Powell Storage in 1989.
“Our parking lot was our showroom. The cubicle was the shop, the set-up, the wash bay. … Another cubicle became available two doors down. I made that my showroom. My rent became $850 per month – I was scared to death,” he said.
After about a year, he found rental property with a remodeled building on West Powell Road. He ran the store during day and then delivered equipment until dark, he said.
“Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. You have to want it and be willing to sacrifice to get it.”
Over Memorial Day weekend of 1994, Jeff, his brother Jim, staff, and friends moved the entire operation to his current Powell location on Sawmill Road. The property had been a homestead pig farm. “We shut down on Saturday, and we were open for business Tuesday morning. I didn’t sleep for three days.”
Since then, Voss Bros. has opened two more stores, in Marysville and Sunbury.