Robert F. Rider Jr, Chamber's Business Person of the Year

When it comes to starting new businesses, it's a way of life in the Newton/Rider family and has been for many generations, starting with Oliver A. Newton and his son Warren. Together they began the family business after Warren returned from University of Delaware with an Agriculture /Business degree. They worked to develop ways to improve the breeding of chickens which included, among other things, a better diet. This was the beginning of O. A. Newton and Son in 1916. Warren Newton developed a state-of-the-art feed milling and processing plant, which led to improved poultry production. In 1969, the poultry business was sold to Armor Swift, and a year later was sold to Perdue Farms.

There were many businesses that stemmed from the original poultry business, including an Irrigation business which is still going strong today; an International Harvester dealership on Delmarva lasting through the 1960s; Newton Homes, a home construction business; and Newton Appliances in which household appliances were sold.

Warren Newton had three daughters, one of which was Jane Newton, and she married Bob Rider who ran O. A. Newton from 1952 until 2002. Rob Rider, Jr. began his career at O. A. Newton at the age of 12, when he was hired to wash company vehicles and to do odd jobs that his father would allow a young man of that age to do. During his summer breaks he would work as one of the construction crew members traveling from job to job doing hands-on work. From that point, Rob knew he wanted to join the family business and when he graduated from Cornell in 1985, he did just that.

In 2016, OA Newton is celebrating 100 years in business on Delmarva. Rob explains that along the way, as the times have changed, O. A. Newton has had to continually re-invent themselves and to form new partnerships and relationships to expand the business and make it prosper.

As a major provider of Material Handling Solutions with blend plants throughout the world, it is notable that 'much of the equipment and machinery they developed for feed processing they have been able to adapt and improve for the Material Handling business,' said Rob Rider, Jr. O. A. Newton delivers exceptional Material Handling systems for Plastics Processors, Wood-Composite companies, and Tire manufacturers to name a few.

Two years ago, Rob and his wife Susan decided to transform their customer parts counters into a full service Farm and Ranch Store offering their customers the option of purchasing all of their farming, irrigation, and home needs in one location. The store includes everything from irrigation parts to bird feeders to outdoor work wear clothing to John Deere riding toys.

As if they weren't busy enough, Rob and Susan opened a gym in 2015: Body & Soul Fitness located in Seaford. Their interest in this industry began with their love of Madd Dogg Spinning (a cardio exercise with stationary bicycles). They wanted to establish an environment where anyone could come into the gym and not feel intimidated based on their lack of fitness experience. The gym offers an overall healthy approach to fitness including functional training and an on-site dietician.

Their son, Tyler, runs the Material Handling production process as well as the shipping and receiving of materials. Their daughter Lauren, handles all of the marketing and media for their businesses.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Greater Seaford Chamber of Commerce has named Rob Rider, Jr., as the 2016 Business Person of the Year. Rob will receive his award today (Oct. 20) at the Excellence in Leadership Recognition Dinner and Auction, to be held at the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department.

Additional Chamber award recipients are as follows: Blazing New Trails Award - Katie & Kevin Evans, Evans Farms LLC (Bridgeville) Community Service Award - John Rittenhouse, SHIFTDestiny and Lora Schuler, of M&T Bank for her work with the Nanticoke Senior Center (Seaford) Volunteer of the Year - Susan Henry-Jones of the Day Spa at the Marina in Blades

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.