Allan Winick has always liked to weld, to make things, to fix stuff. He has fond memories of welding class at Windsor High School. But instead of becoming a welder, Winick followed his family’s tradition and became a farmer. For many years, he and his wife, Judy, fed up to 1,500 cattle and raised sugar beets, pinto beans and corn for silage in several nearby locations, eventually ending up in Wellington.
It wasn’t until he and Judy joined their friends the Richard Seaworths on a cruise to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary that Allan gave even a second thought to welding. Also on that cruise was Jerry Groff of Imperial, Neb., owner of Groff Ag. Groff was in the farm implement business and in the course of getting to know each other, Winick learned that Groff needed some help. Before the cruise was over, Winick had agreed to go to work for Groff cutting out finger wheels for one of his products.
Winick liked the work so much that it became full-time for him, at least for part of the year. He quit feeding cattle but for several years he continued to farm, juggling two businesses with Judy’s help and managing as best he could.
Groff Ag grew and prospered and in 2007 Winick bought the business and set himself up on land he owned and farmed in Wellington. By 2003, he’d sold most of the land for development and it eventually became Columbine Estates on GW Bush Drive. He kept enough acreage to house his business in what became Winick Business Park. The Winick home sits adjacent to the business park.
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Groff provides more than 400 distributors nationwide with a double disc planter attachment that places fertilizer efficiently and a finger-row cleaner that removes debris from a planting row reducing erosion and conserving soil moisture. Among new products for the firm are an electronic residue manager, an outgrowth of the finger-row cleaner that allows the operator in-cab depth control. In other words, the farmer doesn’t need to leave his tractor to adjust for differing soil conditions.
The work is hard, the hours long, but both Winicks say it is still fun for them. While they haven’t taken time for a cruise since the one celebrating their anniversary long ago, they have no regrets. They enjoy keeping up with technology and introducing new products. Judy has always been by Allan’s side, willing to take on any task that needs to be done from powder coating products to drilling, wire brushing and grinding and, according to her, “whatever else needs to be done.”
In 2009 they sold all their farm equipment and vehicles and said goodbye to that phase of their lives. “It was hard, but it was also a relief,” Winick said.
Although he didn’t grow up in Wellington, he hung out in town as a young person and has always had a soft spot for the place. At one time he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and he served an 18-month stint on the Board of Trustees.
“I got out,” he says. “Politics was not for me.”
But his concern for his community does not falter. He built and donated the sign for Winick Community Park and Lions Park and did the same for Centennial signs at the east and west entrances to Wellington. He is now waiting for plans to create new signs to welcome people to Wellington.
A wind turbine marks the entrance to Winick Business Park, indicating the family’s environmentally friendly stance. They powder coat instead of painting their products thus avoiding noxious fumes. Exhaust from their plasma cutter is captured and recycled.
While today’s Winicks are committed to the future, they haven’t forgotten their past. Jake, the first Winick to appear in Colorado, came from the Volga River region of Russia as a young man in 1908 and settled in Colorado because of the beet sugar industry. He worked in the beet factory in the winter and grew beets in the summer, eventually rising to become one of the top ten producers in the area. Now in its sixth generation, the Winick family has not forgotten their past.
Allan and Judy’s daughter, Nicole serves as chief financial officer for Groff Ag and is the mother of twins Reegan and Peyton, 4-year-olds who attend preschool at Rice Elementary. Daughter Chrystal works part-time for the family firm. When Allan discovered a picture of his grandfather among his mother’s possessions, he donated it to the Fort Collins Streets Department that sits on land that once grew Winick beets.
In the years to come, visitors to Wellington will be guided by signs donated by the Winick family, never suspecting how long the family has been an integral part of the area.