Case Studies

Advanced Feeding Systems Inc.

A return to roots

Advanced Feeding Systems Inc. (AFS) is a family operation led by Phil Atherton, founder and president, as well as managing owners Jerry Bennett and Chad Atherton. “I was a farm boy doing a city job,” Phil laughs, “Before I decided to return to my roots and start my own company building commercial, residential, agricultural and livestock facilities.” And Phil has done quite well.

“Jerry is a longtime friend and co-worker, and Chad is my son,” Phil continues. Phil is proud to note that Chad will someday take over AFS. He is also proud to note that the entire AFS team is treated as family. “We all like to work together,” says Phil. “It’s a fun work environment and it pays off.”

Founded in 1994, AFS has continued expanding in the 20 years since. The company began constructing livestock confinement facilities, such as chickens houses, hog houses, as well as turkey barns and cattle feeding facilities. AFS also equips these facilities with the feeding systems, ventilation, cooling, heating controls and electrical components necessary to become a turnkey complex. In addition to its rural expertise, AFS constructs churches, steel buildings and many other facilities.

With three locations in Kentucky, as well as one in Tennessee, AFS works in both states, as well as Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. The company’s administration and office buildings are located in Livermore, Ky. AFS holds down its current operation by keeping nearly 40 employees in-house and contracting another 75.

In South Fulton, Tenn., AFS has a large warehouse and sells feeding equipment and accessories. In the future, AFS has recently added an additional location, in Glasgow, Ky., with additional feeding parts and accessories for chicken, turkey and hog houses.

AFS is an expert in creating livestock feeding and maintenance solutions. However, with a large warehouse and fabrication facility, AFS has the ability to customize a building for any commercial project. These capabilities include post frame, stud frame and all-steel facilities.

The company has built fire stations, barns, warehouses, churches, homes and retail locations, among many other facilities. Furthermore, the company keeps all these capabilities in-house and doesn’t usually subcontract work. “We even have our own electrical crew and our own concrete crew,” says Phil. “If we get in a bind, we might sub out equipment installation, but that’s very seldom.”

Innovative livestock solutions

AFS provides the farming industry with innovative livestock solutions. The company is a certified distributor and service provider for most major brands of poultry and livestock systems. AFS’ expert staff pays strict attention to detail and delivers high quality results. In addition to high standards and quality materials, keeping skilled employees makes the whole operation run smoothly for AFS.

Phil explains that he works closely with AFS’ main suppliers and is able to offer the best products at competitive prices. Furthermore, AFS is fully insured and bonded for its customers’ protection. AFS is an approved construction vendor for the United States Department of Agriculture and is a registered member of the Home Builders Association of Owensboro, as well.

Of the many projects that AFS completes, Phil says that it’s hard to pick one that stands out above the rest. “They’re all interesting,” he details. “It’s always something different that we’re working on. It’s never the same day here.”

Furthermore, the variety keeps it fun for Phil and his crew. “Every day is a party at AFS,” Phil says with a smile; a party that brings in over $10 million in annual revenue.

However, AFS only experiences such success due to years of hard work and dedicated employees. AFS got its start in the industry by building chicken houses, eight in the beginning, in the area. Phil knew what he was getting into when he took on a company of his own, and he knew the work like the back of his hands. “As someone who grew up on a farm, I knew what needed to be done and how to do it right,” he says.

Lately, AFS has been constructing numerous turkey houses, which are slightly larger than a chicken house. According to Phil, these projects have been predominately in Kentucky and Indiana.

Good things to come

For AFS, 2014 will be tremendous. At the year’s start, AFS had more work lined up for the beginning than it had in all of 2013 and more request for livestock facilities are on the way. Additionally, AFS will increase sales of poultry houses and equipment. Due to this positive development, AFS will likely double its annual revenue within the next five years.

AFS is in the spot it is today thanks to diversifying five years ago. When the recession hit, Phil took his company in a new direction and the result was expanded capabilities and industry expertise. “We built post-frame building and compost and litter storage buildings,” says Phil. “We did what we knew we had to do, and diversifying was the thing that saved us.”

Diversification led to further opportunities for AFS, to construct offices, buildings and churches for the commercial sector in recent years. The company has won numerous awards – for its work in the region, for the structure of its business and so on – and these are found on office walls, not the company website. “They’re just hanging here on the walls,” says Phil.

Phil deserves to be proud of the company he and his partners have built and the work it does, however, he spends his time doing, not dwelling. That’s a country mindset, not a city one, and it’s working well for Advanced Feeding Systems Inc.

Published on: July 22, 2014

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