Hartley & Brent Talk Riding Bikes on the Farm
Hartley & Brent Talk Organic Eggs
Hartley & Brent Talk Riding Bikes on the Farm
Hartley & Brent Talk Organic Eggs
Click on the play buttons below to stream our radio spots featuring Brent Wilcox and his daughter.
Holiday Version 1
Holiday Version 2
Hardboiled Eggs Version 1
Hardboiled Eggs Version 2
By Brandi Kruse – KIRO Radio on February 11, 2014
On a recent visit to Wilcox Family Farms in Roy, a group of hens could be seen pecking at the ground beneath the breathtaking backdrop of Mount Rainier. It was a clear, sunny day on the banks of the Nisqually River and many of the farm’s 800,000 chickens had emerged from their hen houses.
One would never have guessed that the fourth-generation family farm was still reeling from the worst event in its 102-year history.
On Dec. 2, 2013, a silo at the farm’s nearby feed mill collapsed; burying a worker underneath 500 tons of corn.
“Your first instinct is to grab a shovel, grab a wheelbarrow – do whatever it takes – just get him out,” said Brent Wilcox, who runs the farm with his brothers Andy and Chris.
Emergency responders were on the scene within minutes.
Chief Bob Vellias with South Pierce Fire and Rescue was among the first to arrive that day and said the silo was too unstable for his crew to save 44-year-old Steve Green, whose body was recovered more than two days later.
“In the fire service you have to make some very tough decisions, and this was one of them,” Vellias said. “I felt that we had to put the safety of the people who were there to find this man first. You don’t want to create two scenes.”
Green, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, left behind his wife, four children, and 13 grandchildren.
“As an employer, especially a family business, it’s the worst thing you could ever imagine happening,” said Andy Wilcox. “The fact that we weren’t able to find Steve for two days was really tough.”
While the Wilcox brothers said it was their first priority, rescue efforts at the feed mill were a small part of what the farm was faced with after the collapse.
The mill produced 100 tons of feed per day – a mix of soy mill, wheat, alfalfa and corn needed to take care of the nearly one million chickens that call Wilcox Family Farms home.
When the silo collapsed, the farm’s feed supply was abruptly cut off.
“The loss of life is your number one concern, but the next priority is, ‘How do we feed our chickens?'” said Brent Wilcox, who knew that without feed, the chickens could fall ill and starve to death in a matter of days.
The Wilcox brothers started making phones calls.
“Immediately, we had 800,000 hens that need food. A third of those need food within a day,” Andy Wilcox said. “We called up what is typically our competitors and said, ‘Hey, we’re in a terrible situation here.'”
Within 24 hours of the collapse, competitors were shipping truckloads of feed to Roy. National in Everett, Steibrs in Yelm, and Briarwood in Rochester were among those who pitched in to help.
“It never crosses your mind to say, ‘Let them suffer,'” said Steve Wagner, general manager at Briarwood Farms, which is a division of Valley Fresh. “It could happen to you the next time and you wouldn’t want 800,000 chickens going without feed.”
To accommodate Wilcox Farms, The Briarwood feed mill in Rochester has doubled the number of workers and lengthened hours. The mill used to produce five truckloads of feed per day, and is now producing 10.
“We’ll help until they don’t need us any longer,” Wagner said. “If it’s a month, if it’s three months, if it’s a year, we’re just here to help.”
In the past, Wilcox Farms has also stepped up to help competitors in need.
After a fire shut down an egg processing facility at National in Everett, Wilcox moved operations to their own facilities.
“Within this competitive arena, we realize that we’re all in this together if we’re going to survive as farms here,” Brent Wilcox said.
Wilcox Family Farms will reopen the feed mill in Roy after Labor & Industries completes their investigation into the collapse, which could take another month.
For now, flowers and flags sit near the silo in honor of the worker who died. Over the Christmas holiday, members of the community got together to deliver presents to Steve Green’s children and grandchildren and to cook the family a warm meal.
A memorial fund to honor the life of Steve Green has been set up at Key Bank. Those who wish to make donations can do so by giving to the “Memorial Fund for Steve Green” at any Key Bank location.
For Immediate Release
December 5, 2013
Contact: Brent Wilcox 360-458-7774
Roy, WA – Last night at approximately 10:30pm the body of Steven Green was recovered from the toppled silo at the Wilcox Family Farms mill site.
“The Wilcox family extends our condolences, thoughts and prayers to Steven Green’s family for their loss” said Brent Wilcox, CEO of Wilcox Family Farms. “This is a devastating loss to our company and our community. Steve was an exceptional person and employee. Our family and all the Wilcox employees share in grieving his loss.”
“We will support his family members every way we can during this difficult time,” said Wilcox. “We have set up a memorial fund for Steve’s family and our company has made a substantial contribution to the fund. We are also encouraging contributions from our employees, and we encourage others to support Steve’s family during this tragedy.”
Contributions can be made to the Memorial Fund for Steve Green at any Key Bank.
The Wilcox family is also supporting their employees during this difficult time and grief counselors have been made available to employees today. The Fire Department and local police also provided chaplains for both the family and Wilcox employees at the scene over the past few days.
“We greatly appreciate the emergency management response services who have responded in this recovery effort and thank the support of our community during these trying times,” said Wilcox. “We will continue to fully cooperate with response teams and investigators until their work is complete.”
Wilcox Family Farms has hired KPFF consulting engineers to expedite the demolition of the site and ensure that it is safe.
“We want to understand why and how this tragedy happened and ensure that it will never happen again.” Said Wilcox. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees.”
“Finally, I want to thank our fellow northwest egg producers and feed suppliers, Valley Fresh Foods National Food Corporation, Stiebers Farms, Willamette Egg, Oakdale Eggs, and X-Cel Feeds who have all stepped forward with support and offers of assistance to us,” said Wilcox.
A fixture of the countryside southwest of Yelm for more than a century, Wilcox Family Farms has become one of the largest egg producers in the Pacific Northwest, with upward of $70 million in annual sales. The business has grown 15 percent a year for each of the past three years. Some 1.2 million chickens roam the ranch and every day they lay 1.2 million eggs. “Once they start laying eggs, they don’t slow down. We never have an off season,” says Brent Wilcox, a fourth-generation family member who runs the company with his brother, Andy, and his cousin, Chris.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact
Egg Media Hotline
According to a recent survey, 82 percent of parents agree that eggs are a more nutritious breakfast than cereal
Park Ridge, Ill. (July 17, 2013) – It’s essential to provide children with a nutritious breakfast that will stick with them when they ease into the back-to-school routine. Studies show that eating breakfast before school has continuously shown positive effects in children, including higher test scores and attendance.i But what’s the best option? According to a recent survey conducted by the American Egg Board (AEB), the vast majority of parents (82 percent) agree that eggs are a more nutritious breakfast than cereal – and with good reason.
The Grand Marshals for this year’s Prairie Days Parade will be longtime Yelm community members Barrie and Susan Wilcox, from Wilcox Farms in Roy, WA.
Barrie and Susan Wilcox, from Wilcox Farms located at Harts Lake, are profiled in the story. Barrie had invited me to tour his family farm, and I took him up on his offer this week.