October 5, 2009
Family farm evolves into an egg behemoth
PUGLISI FARMS: Second-largest egg producer in New Jersey
By MICHELLE GLADDEN
Way back when, at his very bottom, Emanuel Puglisi sold the last prized possession from his egg farm, a half-ton 1950s blue Chevy pickup truck.
The hens had been sold already, so this was the next step toward abandoning his farm. The loss of the pickup is still etched in family lore.
"I can remember the man coming to pick it up on Christmas morning,'' said Puglisi's eldest son John, 53, who was then just 5 years old. "My dad just wasn't making any money, and that helped to make some ends meet.''
But more than 50 years later, no one is abandoning anything at Puglisi Egg Farms, the state's second-largest egg producer. The farm, a complex of steel warehouses and hangar-like hen houses called "clear span'' buildings off Easy Street, is capable of packaging 101,000 eggs per hour. Meanwhile, the family owns other farms in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The metamorphosis of the Puglisi farm, from American Gothic-like outpost that began with 30 hens to family corporation, is a story of survival and change wrought by an industry meltdown.
Most of what the anti-agriculture crowd likes to characterize as a “factory farm”, have very similar stories to the Puglisi family. They started from very meager beginnings, worked hard and had a desire to grow their farm. Several decades later their family is still working just as hard and at no point have they quit caring about their hens. So many people today think they can determine the level of care by the size of the operation. As you run a successful livestock operation and you are able to grow it, never to you get to the point that you quit caring for the livestock. This article is a good example of that.