Middletown business operating with family’s fifth generation

Diver Garden and Pet Supplies, at 1810 First Ave. in Middletown, is bring run by the fifth generation of the family to operate the business. CONTRIBUTED
Diver Garden and Pet Supplies, at 1810 First Ave. in Middletown, is bring run by the fifth generation of the family to operate the business. CONTRIBUTED

Dan Diver has had a 40-year career at his fifth-generation family business, Diver Garden and Pet Supplies, 1810 First Avenue, Middletown.

Historical records go back to 1865, when Cummins & Hartley had a grain business. This business operated as Harley & Curtis from 1876 to 1882, and as J.B. Hartley & Company from 1883 to 1887. It was located on the corner of Girard Avenue and Verity Parkway.

In 1890, Frank O. Diver entered the firm, and in 1892, he took over and it became F.O. Diver Grain Company. Frank’s father, Jacob, was also in the business. In 1894, they moved to First Avenue.

The name of the business was changed to Diver Coal & Feed Company in 1936.

Frank O. Diver’s son, Norval, was Dan’s father. Norval was born 1894 and began working there as a teenager on First Avenue about 1910. He later ran the business.

Business slowly evolved.

“Organic gardening was my father’s hobby,” said Dan Diver. It was transferred to the business in the 1960s.

Dan graduated from Miami university in 1975 with a degree in business/finance.

“I started working at Divers right after that,” Dan said. “In 2016. I felt like my son, Aaron, (the fifth generation) had enough experience to take over.”

Aaron runs the store, and his sister, Rachel Williams, works part time. Their sister, Ashleigh, teaches high school English in the Columbus area.

Besides Dan’s business/finance degree, he is also certified by the ICCFA in Cemetery Operations. He has been with Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum since 1991 after being elected to the board of directors. He was elected president of the board in 2003.

On Jan. 1, 2016, Dan was named the general manager of Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum.

“My son is full-time at Divers, and I am full-time at Woodside,” he said.

Dan’s wife, Manami White, is a freelance violinist and plays in various orchestras.

The business has plenty of history, Dan said.

“The time of the 1913 flood, we were producing flour. The bridge was out on Route 73, from Middletown to Trenton, so the bakeries on the west side of the village were without flour.

“After the flood waters receded and before the bridge could be rebuilt, my father took his favorite horse and laid two 100-pound bags of flour across his horse’s back and then crossed the river so bakeries would have a supply to bake bread again. Back then all deliveries were made by horse. We had a stable next to the barn on First Avenue.

“Back then the business was located on the outskirts of town. Since then the town has grown around it and we are almost downtown.”

At one time, their business was mostly agricultural.

“We would buy local grain and ship it, but as the town grew around us, we were involved more with home owners than farmers,” Dan said.

Among other things, Diver’s Garden & Pet Supplies specializes in serving several items in bulk such as wild bird seed and lawn and grass seed.

Contact contributing writer Shirley Belcher at shirl54bel@gmail.com