It started out small.
“My parents, Ruth and Herb Felger, first opened Felger’s Peat Moss in 1953 selling peat moss and limestone,” says Jerry Felger, owner of Felger’s Peat Moss in Fort Wayne. “Today, the business has grown considerably and we offer just about everything you need for any outdoor living project.”
Jerry was three years old when the business opened on Valentine Road on the city’s northwest side. His grandparents had lived on that property when Jerry’s dad was growing up, but lost the farm during the Great Depression. Ruth and Herb Felger eventually bought it and opened shop.
“By the time I was seven years old, I was actively involved in the family business and have been ever since,” says Jerry.
His wife, Deedee, handles the accounting side of the business and dabbles in sales as well. Their son, Matthew, is the hardscape manager and their daughter, Stephanie, is the office manager. Matthew’s wife, Christy, also works full-time at the business and their two children, 13-year-old Maleena and 4-year-old Donovan, spend a lot of time around the business and help out when they can.
The Felger’s say their business has always grown at a steady rate as they continue to provide new and in-demand products. The pandemic catapulted everything to a whole new level.
“People couldn’t go anywhere, so they came here and bought what they needed not just for normal spring maintenance, but many ‘honey-do’ projects got checked off the list as well as major landscape renovations,” says Stephanie. “It was crazy and we were busier than we’ve ever been. We’ve been very steady since then and we are seeing growth every year.”
Felger’s Peat Moss is open year-round and offers numerous kinds of soils, along with more than 30 varieties of mulches and more than 20 kinds of decorative stone. Delivery service is available.
The business serves both wholesale and retail customers in Fort Wayne as well as surrounding cities and states. Even if they don’t happen to have a particular item a customer is looking for, the Felgers will make every effort to find a way to get it.
“We have to keep up with what the demand is,” says Matthew. “Every year or two, things change and products are added. We end up having more products and a bigger variety – this encompasses everything from pavers and retaining wall blocks to landscape lighting, pergolas, grills, outdoor fireplaces and even outdoor pizza ovens.”
While Matthew attributes the pandemic to prompting a boom in outdoor living, he says people in the midwest have always embraced it.
“A lot of people think that because of the weather in our area, they wouldn’t put as much money into outdoor living, but it’s actually the opposite. More money gets spent on outdoor living in the midwest than it does in the south. In the midwest, when we’re able to be outside, we go outside — we know we have limited opportunities. In Florida, it’s not as big of a deal because its residents can be outside any time.”
Felger’s carries three main lines of hardscapes: Belgard, High Format and Unilock. On-site displays using these various products are always available for customers to look at.
“Pictures of projects with materials bought from us were featured in last year’s Belgard catalog,” says Deedee. “A number of landscapers who buy materials from us have had their work featured in the annual, national catalog over the years and that’s quite an honor for us.”
“If you have something specific in mind, we will work with you to come up with a plan,” says Stephanie. “We also encourage people to bring a picture with them since that helps us better understand and get what you want. We have hundreds of different kinds of flagstone and boulders in all colors, shapes and sizes. The amount of options can be overwhelming. However, we try our best to simplify the process in order to make sure the customer is informed and guided to the best choice for their project.”
As the hardscape manager, Matthew says they also offer a natural stone veneer line called Genuine Stone by Felger’s.
“The Genuine Stone is used on both the inside and outside of houses as well as for fireplaces. This is real stone, so it’s put up with mortar, but it’s a veneer so you don’t need to have footers poured. It’s low maintenance and very nice-looking.”
Matthew says in recent years, he’s seen people really invest in outdoor living.
“We have a large fireplace that we’ve been selling for years, but it’s very expensive and we would sell one or two a year. In 2020 we sold 12 of them. In 2021 we sold 15, and last year we sold 18. That used to be unheard of, but since people couldn’t go on vacation during the pandemic, they spent money on fancier projects in order to have a vacation-like experience at home. Some people continue to do that.”
The Felger family not only works together, they all live on the same street as the business and cherish the family values that have kept their business thriving for seven decades. Jerry’s mom, Ruth, was active in the business until she was well into her 80s and lived on the property until she passed away in September of 2014. The original farmhouse on the property is now used as an office.
“We have so many customers who have been coming here for years and years. Some of them tell us they remember coming here back in the 50s with their parents,” says Deedee. “It’s exciting to reflect on the past 70 years and look toward the future.”
“In addition to my family, we have a small staff of loyal employees. Many of them have been here for a long time as well as other support staff, such as teenagers picking up summer jobs or part-time office staff who help us get through the busy season,” says Stephanie. “They are a strong part of the business and we are tremendously grateful for them.”
“My dad was a very religious person, and honesty and integrity were at the center of his business philosophy,” says Jerry. “He always said, ‘Treat people like you want to be treated.’ I think that’s why our customers have become our friends. People know they can count on good, reliable customer service when they come here.”
Address: 9912 Valentine Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46818
Phone: (260) 693-3134
Years in Business: 70
Products & Services: Architectural stone, Black & Brown Top Soil, Specialty Soil Mixes, Peat Moss, Boulders, River Rock, Limestone, Decorative Stone, Flagstone, Natural Stone, Mulches, Polymeric Sand, Weed Fabric, Cut Stair Steps, Retaining Wall Block, Pavers, Delivery available