Jack DeWitt, the original “Big Dutchman”, turned 100 years old on January 30th, 2011.
In 1938 Jack and his brother Dick DeWitt founded Big Dutchman and together they would design, develop, and sell the first automatic poultry feeding system. In addition to the revolutionary design featuring the flat chain concept, which remains a popular poultry feeding technology, they would develop many other products to modernise poultry production.
Today Josef Meerpohl and his family are the sole owners of Big Dutchman which is headed by Josef’s son, Bernd Meerpohl. Bernd, and Clovis Rayzel, the president of Big Dutchman Inc., USA, visited Jack at his home to wish him a happy birthday. At this time Jack was presented with a photo book in which Josef signed, “I will never forget that you brought the wonderful Big Dutchman idea into my life.”
In late January Big Dutchman celebrated its founders with a special historical display at the International Poultry Exposition, Atlanta (USA). Photographs and original equipment were featured at the show, emphasising the solid foundation of the company.
“Even today, the company is influenced daily by Jack’s simple, ageless way of doing business”, agreed Bernd and Clovis. Bernd went on to say, “Jack DeWitt had a very simple philosophy, but it’s one that is time-tested in every way. He was very customer-focused and market-oriented, and this is a philosophy we hammer on every day.”
Jack and Dick DeWitt shaped the company early on to become a worldwide supplier for pig and poultry production. “We had a pretty good idea that sure beat shoveling out bird feed by hand. We just had to take it out to the rest of the world”, recollects Jack.
Jack sold his interest in the company in 1968, but stayed on as an advisor until 1971. In 1958, Josef Meerpohl from Vechta-Calveslage took over as sales agent for Northern Germany. In 1985 he acquired the whole company through a management buyout (at that time this did not include the sales rights for North and South America).
Today, the headquarters of the family enterprise are located in Vechta-Calveslage, Germany.