Meet Gene and Ronald Braswell
Braswell Family Spotlight
Meet Gene and Ronald Braswell. Like the generation before them, they grew up working alongside each other at the mill that their uncle and father bought when they were young. After returning home from serving in the military in the 1950s, Gene and Ronald began working full-time at the new mill known as Braswell Milling.
During this time, the farm also began raising immature hens known as pullets. Once the pullets matured to laying hens, the brothers would contract with local farmers. The contract farmers would supply the labor and houses for the birds in exchange for the pullets and feed. The brothers contracted with growers throughout North Carolina and Virginia and even sold pullets as far north as Pennsylvania.
Much of the egg business was done this way, with the Braswells’ owning a few houses themselves. The eggs from the Braswells’ houses and from the contract farms were sold to local families, markets and restaurants in neighboring towns via “egg routes.” One employee recalls that her grandfather ran an egg route in Rocky Mount and would race Ronald to see who could sell the eggs the fastest.
With the business diversifying into egg production, Gene and Ronald decided to use their strengths to focus on the area of the company that most interested them. Gene looked after labor, trucking, and the feed mill, while Ronald attended to the sales of both eggs and pullets, requiring much travel throughout the state and country.
Then came hard times. In 1987, the egg market fell to an all-time low due to oversupply. Eggs were being sold at .24 cents a dozen and cost at least .44 cents to produce. Gene recalls that every egg farmer was broke, and he and Ronald couldn’t pay their contract growers. This went on for a year and a half until the market finally turned around. Through this time, Gene remembers that each of their contract farmers remained by their side and eventually the brothers were able to repay their partners for loss time plus bonuses!
After a few more successful years, Gene decided to sell his share in the company to Ronald and his son Scott. Gene still remained active in the business, working part-time at the feed mill and offering advice to the next generation.
Good times continued as Ronald made the decision to invest into the beginnings of the Eggland’s Best franchise in the late 1980s, what was considered a risky decision at the time. However, it has proven to be one of the best business decisions made in the history of our company, as Ronald Braswell stated shortly before passing away in 1991. Sadly, he never saw an Eggland’s Best egg produced.
Ronald’s death came unexpectedly and left the company heartbroken for their loss. Scott, Ronald’s son, stepped up and began leading the company as the third-generation president.
Gene still pops into the main office and feed mill occasionally to catch up with our family of employees, some that he hired during his time here.
Again, we are truly thankful for the contributions of the second generation of Braswells. Gene states today that he and Ronald could not have accomplished all that they did without the dedicated employees who worked alongside them throughout the years.
Learn more about our 75 years here.