Owners: Terry and Katrina Willems
Location: Scranton, Ark.
History: “We opened our business in August 2017,” owner Terry Willems said. “Before that, I worked for Southwest Energy as a driller and night rig manager. When Katrina and I had three children, I discovered I was bored and tired of being a long way from home for three weeks at a time. I wanted to work for myself and earn the fruits of my own labor. I knew about poultry cleanout because I helped my dad when I was a kid. A family friend named Tom Crane was in the cleanout business when I was helping my dad and was getting ready to retire. We bought used equipment from him, including a de-caker he built that allowed de-caking, loading the truck and spreading in one operation. I worked with him and another cleanout service to learn how the process changed over the years. I soon learned some customers want serviced according to a regular schedule, such as every six or eight weeks and a full cleanout once a year for most farms. Others prefer to call ahead once they have a firm date when the birds will be collected for processing so we can schedule them for de-caking, windrowing or the annual clean out. I soon had enough contacts to open up our business with Katrina taking care of scheduling and office work and me cleaning. When I need help during the busy season, my brothers, Tim and Toby, and nephew, Sam, are available to help me. We now have 25 active customers through the year and two new sets of equipment to keep pace with customer needs.”
Services: “I clean out one house per day sometimes selling, delivering and spreading the litter for other farmers, though other times the producer uses the litter on his own fields. Occasionally I will help a producer sell the litter. I can de-cake two or three houses a day, depending upon size and the quantity of litter. The process allows them to retain the bedding with bad bacteria being cooked out which decreases annual bedding costs. I then come back to spread the windrows throughout the house making sure the floors are level, which is easier on watering and feeding equipment. In turkey houses, I de-cake the whole house and then clean out the back area for new bedding for brooding before the young turkeys are allowed full range when they are older with better immune systems.”
Philosophy and Future: “Our business has prospered, and I think it’s because I let my work speak for itself. The producers’ success is our success so we strive to meet the individual needs of each producer rather than using a set system all of the time. An example is more time-consuming windrowing instead of cleaning out when I leave enough material in the house for a minimum bed so producers save on bedding costs. We are planning to build a shop for maintenance and to build our own equipment like Mr. Crane did. It will also include storage for the equipment and leave room for growth so we’re ready if and when that occurs. One goal, of course, is that someone in the family will eventually take over and continue to help people the way we do.”