BATH - After more than 100 years in business, a longtime farm and home supply store in Bath has closed its doors.

MJ Ward & Son Inc. on Cameron Street in Bath had been in business for 104 years, weathered four generations, and for decades supplied feed and other farm supply goods to farmers and livestock breeders throughout Steuben and neighboring counties.

The business recently decided to shut its doors once it became apparent it couldn’t compete with online and big-box retailers, according to owner Ken Ward and his daughter and coworker Wendy Ward-Gordon.

But they remain proud of what their family has accomplished ever since Marvin J. Ward - Ken Ward’s grandfather and Wendy Ward-Gordon’s great-grandfather - set up shop in 1914.

“Anything that animals could eat, they made it,” said Ken Ward, reflecting on the early days of the business with his grandfather and father in charge.

Ken Ward’s father, Kenneth Ward, joined the business alongside his father Marvin Ward in the 1930s, making it a true family business. A second generation of succession was established, and the company changed its name to MJ Ward & Son to reflect the new arrangement.

Ken Ward entered the business full-time in 1968 after graduating from college - the same year the company incorporated. He became president in 1976 after his father Kenneth Ward passed away.

“I’ve run the place ever since,” he said.

In 1991, Wendy Ward-Gordon followed the predecessors in her family that came before her by joining the family business at the age of 19.

She described working hard for her family ever since, and still has a great sense of pride in what her family did.

“I was always proud to work for my family, to do my best job,” she said. “I was taught good work ethics from my parents, and knew you don’t just get it handed to you.”

MJ Ward & Son’s primary business for many years was producing and selling animal feed for livestock such as horses, pigs and cattle. At its peak, its delivery reach extended down into Pennsylvania, and it shipped to surrounding areas and throughout the northeast.

“We used to go probably the furthest north of Prattsburgh, Penn Yan and down to the Pennsylvania border in delivering, and west probably beyond Hornell,” Ken Ward said.

By the end of the 2000s, a globalizing economy was beginning to impact many small businesses in America. Unfortunately, the farming and agriculture industries weren’t spared.

MJ Ward & Son downsized in 2011 by selling some of its equipment after the number of local farms, and prospective customers for its main product, started to dwindle.

The company attempted to pivot from wholesale manufacturing to retail, but wasn’t able to recover lost ground. It decided to close its doors due to the reality of online and big-box retailers, which oftentimes offer prices many small businesses can’t stand toe-to-toe with.

“If you go online, you can buy almost anything we sell downstairs,” said Ken Ward.

“With the world we live in now, you can’t compete,” said Wendy Ward-Gordon.

MJ Ward & Son closed its doors on May 26 after more than a century.

The company has an upcoming auction through Pirrung Auctioneers scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday on the corner of Morris and Cameron Street. It will auction off inventory, equipment, store fixtures and other assets.

Its Bath property on Cameron Street is up for sale for $450,000. The company is asking $150,000 for another property in Campbell.

Once all is said and done, Ken Ward and Wendy Ward-Gordon say they will remember all of the wonderful people they and their family have welcomed into their shop and done business with throughout the decades, and serving the greater community around them.

“We have been blessed by a lot of great customers over the years,” said Ken Ward. “The majority of them have been really honorable.”

“And we thank them for their business,” said Wendy Ward-Gordon.

For more information on MJ Ward & Son’s upcoming auction, visit www.pirrunginc.com.