Spotlight on Griffith AgriCorp in Dutton, Alabama
Bill Griffith, owner of Griffith AgriCorp in the Pleasant View community near Dutton, Alabama, heads a large operation run by a tight-knit family. Griffith Poultry can always be counted on by Guntersville service technician George Stanley. As Stanley puts it, "I know what I will see before I get there. Everything will be right."
Located on Sand Mountain, a finger of the Cumberland Plateau in the southern Smoky Mountains, Griffith's operation is a big one. With two 66' x 600' Super Houses, four 40' x 500' houses and one 40' x 400' house allowing Griffith to raise 204,000 birds every year, there is little time to rest. Stanley states, "I have known Mr. Bill to be up for 36 hours straight getting chickens sold and cleaning houses."
In addition to chickens, Griffith has 2,000 acres of corn and soy beans, along with 50 head of cattle, explains Bill's son, Gregg Griffith.
Bill Griffith just had a birthday this month, marking his 81st year. Son Gregg states, "Dad will never stop working. He is very active." Bill has been in farming his entire life, born and raised in Dutton. Bill's wife, Juanita, is also an integral part of Griffith AgriCorp, serving as CFO, doing all the accounting in a ledger by hand. Gregg boasts, "Mom is accurate to the penny!"
As Gregg puts it, Bill has always farmed. Carrying water and feed in jugs by hand when he was young has evolved into a large commercial operation, which Bill started in 1985. At that time, only the 40' x 400' house was on the farm, with the 40' x 500' houses to follow about a decade later. Unfortunately, tornadoes wiped out a couple of those older houses about three years ago. That destruction led to the construction of the two Super Houses about a year and a half ago. Stanley states, "Even at 81 years old, Mr. Bill still talks about building two more Super Houses!"
Revolving Around the Family
Bill's sons continue the family farming tradition and are all part of the operation. Gregg and Steve joined after retiring from the Department of Defense and serving as a firefighter, respectively. Now they both work on the farm full time. Gregg's son, Cameron Kilby, is on the team and, additionally, Steve's thirteen year old son, Kade, is able to help out. Gregg's wife, Wanda, and Steve's wife, Tissia, are also involved, helping out wherever they are needed. Gregg's eight year old twin daughters, Sarah Kate and Sydnee Grace, and Steve's eight year old daughter, Madelyn, round out the Griffith family. "It all revolves around the family, it always has," explains Gregg.
Family pride runs deep. Gregg is a proud father and uncle, which was evident in the way he described a recent fundraiser Sarah Kate, Sydnee Grace and Madelyn organized. The three eight year olds took it upon themselves to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. They held a dance and raised $2,800, which the family was able to personally deliver to the hospital.
Community Service, Stewardship and Sustainability
Throughout each day, the Griffiths "make sure everybody's fed and everything's working right." But there is so much more to Griffith AgriCorp. The grain operation has grown considerably in the last five years, allowing the Griffiths to use their own litter on the fields. The litter is also applied to their pastures. This follows the Alabama Department of Environmental Management's policies regarding litter disposal and spreading. Gregg explains that extensive records are kept on how much litter they put out and when they apply it, in order to comply with the ADEM guidelines. The Griffiths also adhere to the ADEM Biosecurity requirements, to ensure optimum bird health. Additionally, the Griffiths are getting ready to build a second composter, an important environmental upgrade.
Gregg and Steve are both involved community members. Gregg serves on the advisory board for Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, and Steve serves on the board for Southern States Cooperative. When it comes to Gregg's love of farming, he explains, "I love the freedom of it. I worked for the government for 29 years, but everything was geared for me to wind up on the farm. There are no restrictions; your own decisions affect your outcome."
Working with the Griffiths off and on for fifteen years, George Stanley says, "I cannot say enough good things," about Mr. Bill and Miss Juanita. "Of all the things I think I know, if any of it is any good, I probably learned it from Mr. Bill."