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Not exactly chicken feed: Bellingham company wins $100,000

Scratch and Peck Feed employees, from left to right, Ben Black, Taber Wilmot and Derek Bradley package feed on Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Bellingham. Scratch and Peck Feeds is one of 20 small companies nationwide recently awarded a $100,000 grant from Chase bank.
Scratch and Peck Feed employees, from left to right, Ben Black, Taber Wilmot and Derek Bradley package feed on Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Bellingham. Scratch and Peck Feeds is one of 20 small companies nationwide recently awarded a $100,000 grant from Chase bank. The Bellingham Herald

A national bank was so impressed with a local animal feed company’s determination to fill a market need that it decided to help with a $100,000 grant.

Scratch and Peck Feed was awarded one of 20 Mission Main Street Grants from Chase. The five-year-old Bellingham company was selected from more than 30,000 businesses across the U.S.

The company, which focuses on chicken feed, is known for its certified organic products that are also free of genetically modified organisms. It’s slogan is, “You are what your animals eat.”

The announcement came as a shock to Diana Ambauen-Meade, who operates the business with her husband, Dennis Meade, and their son, Bryon Meade. Given the number of business entries, she was surprised her application was even noticed. Scratch and Peck was the only business selected in Washington state for the grant.

In a news release, Chase Business Banking Manager Tim Howell said they wanted to support small businesses that play a major role in the local economy. A check presentation is scheduled at the Scratch and Peck facility at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 18. The facility is at 1645 Jills Ct., in the Irongate business park.

“Scratch and Peck Feed is a great example of a company that saw a need for a new product and created it, allowing us all to benefit from an environmentally and socially conscious company that supports organic and non-GMO agriculture along with creating jobs and opportunities for a growing team of employees,” Howell said.

Along with the grant, two representatives from Scratch and Peck are invited to a Small Business Boot Camp at the headquarters of LinkedIn in Mountain View, Calif.

Ambauen-Meade said they started the company in 2010 after being unable to find that kind of feed for her backyard chicken flock. The business has consistently performed beyond her projections and now has 23 employees.

Ambauen-Meade said they have specific plans for how to use the grant. With the company’s rapid growth, the turnaround time to get the product to market has become long, reaching five days. The plan is to invest the grant into equipment that will help automate bagging and stacking, freeing up employees so they can focus more on output. This would not result in cutbacks in hours for workers, and many of the employees were happy to hear they would be doing less lifting and more production work, she said.

The core customer for Scratch and Peck is the urban farmer who has around eight chickens in the backyard. Ambauen-Meade said the urban farm trend is one that continues to grow, starting on both coasts of the U.S. and working its way into the middle part of the country.

As the trend grows, more people are looking for the organic or non-GMO feed, she said. The Scratch and Peck products are especially popular in the West Coast states as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

For details about the company as well as information about raising backyard chickens, visit the company’s website, scratchandpeck.com.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamHeraldBiz and on Facebook at BellinghamHeraldBusiness.

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