This article ran in Western Farmer in 1964, and is still in publication today.
For those of you who don’t want to download the article to read it, here it is:
Fryers prosper in old sawmill
The Eatonville, Wash., sawmill was once the site of a booming industry. Today its sturdy old buildings show new signs of life and the boom is on its way back—but this time the produce is birds instead of boards.
New owners of the 62-acre former lumber company site are Joe Hamilton and his wife Joan. For the past 4 1/2 years they have been expanding a fryer operation that now consists of 113,000 birds in four of the old buildings.
A new kind of machinery is at work where buzz saws once shined. The latest thing is automatic feeders, waterers, ventilating equipment and brooders supply the efficiency of operation that is one of Joe Hamilton’s business requirements.
But why fryers in a sawmill? Because it’s good business, and Hamilton is a businessman.
A business administration graduate of the University of Washington, he decided about five years ago the time had come to be in business for himself. He became acquainted with fryer growing through his cousin Kent.
Next Hamilton began to look things over. He found out how much it would cost to put up new buildings and start from scratch. He priced rental operations. Until he stumbled on the old lumber company site he hadn’t found the facilities that could be as profitable as he wanted his operation to be.
Today, Joe Hamilton has what he set out to find. He has ample space for expansion in buildings easily adapted to fryer growing . . . space at a cost that won’t eat up the profits.
Despite the imposing external appearance of the buildings, they are no higher than the usual fryer houses. Metal siding was replaced where needed and bulk feed bins set up. WFA automated poultry equipment was installed and rigid health care steps instituted.
At load-out time Eatonville high school vo-ag studies are hired to help with the move. Hamilton is now running the operation without hired help. He moves through each building in a regular pattern that cover the floor space quickly and efficiently, spotting trouble in the early stages.
Not all the buildings are in use and some of them will never be more than interesting relics of the past. Thick walls of crumbling brick and rusted rails were once busy lumber drying kilns. A looming rust-red burner towers cone-shaped and deserted over the mill.
Along with an advantageous business operation, Hamiltons have acquired a place to live that would set any city dweller in dreaming. A small river bounds the property on one side, murmuring as it falls over the old wooden dam that once turned a waterwheel. Green woods stand where once where lumber piles. A spot of high ground with a view of Mt. Rainier has been set aside for a new house . . . a house with walls of glass that will look out over the beautiful countryside.
The next step in Hamilton’s progress timetable is improvement of the space now being used. Insulation will come soon.
“The key thing now is to improve the environment to get better results,” he said.
Then further expansion. Hamilton figures his operation will eventually see between 200,000 and 250,000 birds prospering in the mill building.
Hamilton calls himself a self-educated fryer grower, and places a lot of importance on the WFA field men who work with him.
“The Association has been a great help,” he said. “whenI have a problem, they come up with the answer. I chose the cooperative type of operation so I can retain independent ownership of my business.”
Article Courtesy of Dan Hamilton.
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