Norman N. Schwotzer, one of the founders of the company, was born on March 16,1893, at Cochrans Mill, Jefferson Township, Allegheny County, PA. He completed five years of elementary schooling, and then helped in the family store. On January 31,1915, his father Karl Gottlieb Schwotzer, died, but his widow, Pauline Schwotzer, with the continuing help from Norman, kept the store going. But about the middle of 1918, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and served in France in the 102nd Engineers Company, 27th New York Division. He was discharged from the service on April 5, 1919. Of his army experience, he stated many times, “I won’t take a million dollars for the experience, but I won’t want to do it again.”

What brought on the formation of a partnership between Norman and John C. and Tillie I. his wife, Fox, is not known. The name of the partnership would be OPTION FEED COMPANY. On June 18, 1919, Fox had entered into a 30-year lease agreement with George H. Horning for about three-quarters of an acre of land situated between Brownsville Road and the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway Company. The monthly rent was $100 plus real estate taxes. A Private Side Track Agreement was completed on July 31, 1919 by John C. Fox with the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway Company. Option Feed would, at its own expense, construct, maintain, and own the track material of the siding starting at 352 feet from the switch. The siding was extended to the rear of the new building.

Farm and construction machinery became an important part of the company’s sales, so in 1930, the name of the business was changed to the Option Equipment & Supply Co. By the late 1930’s, the farm equipment business struggled as more farms were sold to residential housing developments. Customers had to be sought at greater distances.

In early spring of 1966, the company joined the dealer owned national hardware group, Cotter and Company, True Value Hardware. This changed the company’s approach to hardware sales. At the start, all bulky and heavy weight material was delivered to the company by railroad cars on its siding. Bales of peat moss, nails and fence wire, plaster, bagged white sand, lime, rock salt, and others were delivered by railroad cars. In 1986, the forklift and the prompt truck deliveries eliminated the need for the railroad.

The first fork truck was purchased about 1960, and a Bobcat (a bucket loader) about 1975. Prior to this, quantities of sand and gravel up to about 1 ton were hand shoveled into trucks.

The Option part of the company name was taken from the name of the post office which serviced this area from June 19, 1884 and discontinued on September 15, 1920. Although discontinued, the area was still called Option. The post office was located at about the intersection of what is now called Old Clairton and Streets Run Roads. At the time of the office’s existence till about 1946, that portion of Streets Run Road from Old Clairton Road to Brownsville Road was called Option Road. The bridge on Brownsville Road and the Rail Road siding near the bridge were called Option before the existence of Option Feed Company. Others have since used the name as it is a place name. Two examples are the Option Vol. Fire Co. and the Option Insulation Co.