Olar poultry farmer Chad Brubaker received the South Carolina Department of Commerce's 2019 Outreach Enrichment Award for his successful use of SCDC's services to expand and grow his business, Innovative Poultry Products LLC.
"This isn't something that was even on my radar," a surprised Brubaker said upon receiving the award at the 29th annual South Carolina Rural Summit Tuesday at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. "I desire our company to be a blessing to our community, state, country and world."
"We value people and every relationship," he said. "It can be difficult in a big business world for small start-ups like us to make a go of it. So this award helps to recognize the efforts of our small little company. For that we are grateful."
The 2019 Outreach Enrichment Award recognizes a small business for its participation in the S.C. Department of Commerce’s supplier development outreach opportunities.
Brubaker specifically received the services of S.C. Commerce's International Strategy and Trade Division in an effort to diversify his business through exports.
Brubaker was nominated via an internal selection committee that identifies viable recipients. Any company in the state that has utilized and benefited from S.C. Commerce programs/services is up for nomination.
"Brubaker's company used two South Carolina export-incentive program grants to exhibit at an international production and processing expo and to participate in a trade mission to Panama," S.C. Commerce Senior Community Development Manager Ed West said before presenting the award.
The purpose of the department's supplier-development program is to connect South Carolina businesses with in-state suppliers and vendors.
Innovative Poultry currently serves the Canadian market.
Growing up as a dairy and grain farmer, Brubaker had many opportunities to work on equipment.
His experience on the farm instilled in him a desire to make life a little bit easier for himself and for his fellow chicken farmers.
As co-owner of Brubaker Farms, Brubaker owns two poultry houses with a total of 30,000 square feet for the chickens.
The farm, which raises poultry for Columbia Farms, typically has about 72,000 chickens, or about five flocks, a year.
Brubaker is well acquainted with the time-consuming daily activity of what is commonly referred to as "walking the birds," the unenviable task of going through the poultry houses and collecting the dead chickens.
In light of this need, Brubaker invented The Poultry Hawk, which is assembled onsite at the farm in a facility formerly used as an equipment and hay storage shed.
About eight systems, which include the trolley and the rail, are built a week.
The trolleys are relatively lightweight -- about 180 pounds -- and the rail system distributes the weight of the Poultry Hawk to multiple trusses.
The price of the automated trolley system starts at about $3,000, while the manual system starts at about $1,450.
The trolleys also come with a number of accessories, including a rail brush, a plastic feed insert, a track diverter and a sprayer for vaccines, insecticides and disinfectants.
In addition to a dead-bird-removal system, the equipment is also an automated feeding system. It can simply distribute feed trays, collect feed trays and place extra feed at the start of a new flock. The Poultry Hawk can also haul tools.
In the company's first three years of existence, more than 400 systems have been sold. Shipments are done via truck.
IPP has seen its market expand.
There are now 47 product dealers in about 14 states from as far north as Pennsylvania, south to Mississippi, west to Arkansas and Missouri and north to Minnesota and to near Toronto, Canada. The company has even sold Poultry Hawks in British Columbia and the state of Washington.
Other awards were given to:
- Allendale County's Collum's Lumber Products LLC, founded in the middle 1930s and currently a fourth-generation family-owned business, was recognized with the 2019 Rural Longevity Award.
The company employs about 245.
- The 2019 South Carolina Rural Leadership Award was given to Dr. Ann C. Carmichael, recently retired dean of the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie, for her "progressive leadership" in making an impact on rural South Carolina and the renovation of downtown Allendale.
- Hemmingway High School student Bryanna Williams received the 2019 Department of Commerce Scholastic Achievement Award for overcoming obstacles in life, such as being raised in the foster care system, and ending up being an honor student and a star athlete.