Sullivan County Democrat
Jan. 25, 2002
Soon to Be Back in Business
By Jeanne Sager
GLEN WILD January 25, 2002 - Egg farms in Sullivan County have long been a dying breed. But changing times and even a fire aren't about to stop Bob and Phil Kaplan from keeping up the farm started by their father, Meyer, 60 years ago. K-Brand Farm, also known as Egg U., on Glen Wild Road in Glen Wild has been operating at diminished capacity since September when an electrical fire ravaged their processing machine, damaging a laying room and suffocating 25,000 chickens.The financial loss to their business was more than $900,000.
The Kaplans could have given up. After all, at full capacity they are the largest of two egg farms in the county, Bob Kaplan said.'That was more by default than by choice," he noted. "Larger ones closed down years ago." Instead, the Kaplans decided to forge ahead, maintaining all but one employee after the fire and hiring local contractors to not only rebuild but upgrade their existing plant.
For the first few months, the brothers and their employees collected eggs by hand from the remaining 150,000 chickens. Because one laying house was damaged in the fire and another house had to be shut down when its power source was destroyed in the blaze, K-Brand's usual capacity of 250,000 birds has been minimized for the moment. However, when their rebuild is complete, they hope to reopen one of their closed laying houses and expand. Recently, the Kaplans were able to lease a machine to collect the eggs so the process no longer has to be done by hand, but they have to be sent to a plant in Woodridge to be fully processed. K-Brand's customers have all been diverted to other farms, some to Brey's Egg Farm in Kenoza Lake, Phil Kaplan said. "We know at least two or three will definitely be coming back when we're complete," he explained. Eggs from K-Brand farm are sent mostly to Connecticut, and some make their way to grocery stores in New York City. The Kaplans hope all the rebuilding work will be completed by March 9 so they can welcome their regular clients back to the Glen Wild plant.
Their new processor, which will be fully computerized, is expected to arrive March 5 and will take four days to install. "We are hoping all the other contractors will have their work done by that time," Bob said. The new machine, he said, will be state-of-the-art and should vastly improve their production. The Kaplans are working with three different agencies to fund the $800,000 rebuilding project. The Farm Service Agency, Ellenville National Bank and the county have all been involved in the project, Bob said. The county is expected to supply a low-interest loan through its agricultural development revolving fund.
"We're also using all local contractors, which we hope will be good for the county," Bob said. Quality Carpentry of Sullivan County, a Wurtsboro company, is doing the carpentry work for the Kaplans. Lucyk Contracting of Mountaindale is in charge of the site work, Paul Kirtack and Sons of Woodridge will install the plumbing, and Kerber Electric of Rock Hill will complete the electrical work.