Building an Empire
The Wade Graskewicz Story
Wade’s journey to Hi-Standard Dog Food began in 1988 when he partnered with a friend and opened a small hunting and dog supply store in his hometown in Pinckneyville, IL. They started their store after returning home from college and not wanting to work in the agricultural-dominated industries that were prominent in the area. Wade’s passions growing up always revolved around dogs, hunting, and being outdoors; so it was a no-brainer when he and his friend started Hi-Standard Supplies.
Within two short years, Wade bought out his partner’s share of the business and focused on dog food sales. Having bred and raised German Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers, and Coonhounds, he understood what breeders and pet owners wanted. He knew every dog owner wanted a high-quality, yet affordable product. Yet, that was nowhere to be found; so he took the courtesy of creating one himself.
Wade spent the next eight years running the store along with finding the best formulations for his products. Once he found a formula that was not only a high-quality formula but one that would be a reasonable price he had the foundation for Hi-Standard Dog Food. There were some setbacks in the beginning that he had to overcome. Some with packaging when he had to order 40,000 instead of 500 like he originally thought. The other was when he had to switch manufacturers at the very beginning. They were a small company and Wade had been living nearly 5 hours away from them at the time. The night of the first production, he awoke in the middle of the night and felt something wasn’t right. So he went to the plant and saw that they weren’t following his formula at all. He severed ties with the manufacturer immediately and started the hunt for a new one the next day. Regardless of the setbacks, he got pushed through them and formed an even stronger brand because of the lessons he learned along the way.
Wade began production in 1998 and Hi-Standard Dog Food was born. He would wake up every morning at the crack of dawn and load up his Dodge dually with dog food and make deliveries throughout Southern Illinois before his store opened at 8:30 am. Each day he spent working alongside his mother Ruby, running the store and planning the delivery route that next morning. His son Skyler worked in the store with him and would grow up to run the dog food business with him. Wade owes his success to his family that has stuck by his side from the very beginning. Even his grandchildren show up in the office each day after school and fill the busy office with laughter and remind Wade of the days that Skyler ran around the Hi-Standard Supplies storefront as a little kid. Wade looks at all his employees as family and is grateful to have them by his side to grow Hi-Standard and overcome any other challenges the company may face together as a team.