N.G., left, and Charles Bright pictured with a Bright Coop wooden chicken coop.
Photo taken circa 1967 and contributed by Bright Coop.
Bright Coop, Inc. will receive the Agribusiness of the Year award sponsored by First Bank & Trust East Texas at the 11th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet, Monday, Apr. 2 at Banita Creek Hall.
Click HERE for more info on the event.
The company is a leader in the agriculture industry, a major employer and its co-founder, Charles Bright, has invested heavily in the improvements to downtown Nacogdoches and in the historic preservation of his hometown.
Bright Coop, Inc. and its subsidiary company Viking Trailers sits on a 68 acre tract of land that stretches from Wells and West Seale Streets to S.W. Loop 224 in Nacogdoches. “It can be recognized by a whistle that blows regularly Monday through Saturday to signal to employees when to begin work, break for lunch and when to end work,” said Vice President/General Manager Clem Russell.
According to Russell, the mainstay of Bright Coop is live poultry transportation and handling equipment. Viking Trailers produces poultry, forestry and specialized trailers. Another important part of both companies is a fleet of trucks that haul and backhaul freight not only for Bright Coop/Viking Trailers but for other companies as well.
“Due to the recent drought experienced by Texas, Bright Coop provided a way of relief by hauling over 200 truck loads of round, square and alfalfa hay back to Texas from out of state,” Russell said. “The majority of this hay was delivered in Nacogdoches county.”
Bright Coop and Viking Trailers currently employ 200 people with expansions planned in Viking Trailers for 2012.
Bright Coop had its humble beginnings in 1951 when brothers Charles and N.G. Bright built their first building on West Seale St. and started manufacturing wooden chairs that sold for $14.00 per dozen. The Brights were soon approached by local “chicken haulers” who were in need of coops to transport live chickens to market. With an abundance of hardwood timber in the area and the East Texas broiler industry starting to grow, the brothers decided to go into the business of building wooden chicken coops.
As business grew, machines designed or adapted by company machinist Walter Harris began to automate the process and ultimately increased production to more than 2000 coops per day including coops for turkeys as well as chickens. Their local market base grew to include every poultry-producing state in the U.S. and parts of Mexico, which soon gained them recognition as being the largest manufacturer of wood coops.
In the 1960’s, the Bright brothers designed and produced equipment that improved loading and hauling of turkeys and developed a turkey harvester that is still the choice of today.
The competitor’s plastic poultry coop arrived in the 1970's and the Brights saw a gradual decrease in demand for the wooden product. This prompted the “Bright boys,” as they were locally called, to diversify into building wooden pallets and crates. The bulk of the pallets produced were sold mostly in Texas and Louisiana and at a profit margin that was disappointing at times.
In 1976, N.G. Bright retired and sold his interest in the business to younger brother Charles and Joe Biggerstaff, who was the plant manager at the time. This move prompted Charles, as a majority owner, to move forward with his idea of returning the “poultry business” to Bright Coop.
The company continued to build pallets with Joe Biggerstaff tending to that aspect of the business while Charles and Walter Harris considered better ways of transporting and handling live chickens. The two contacted a long-time friend John Holladay from Athens, Georgia. Holladay was an employee of the Russell Research Center in Georgia and had done some experimental work at a Georgia poultry company. The Brights and Holladay worked together to develop a process for automating the unloading of chickens once they arrived at the processing plant. This system is still the predominate method used today throughout the U.S, Mexico, Australia, Puerto Rico and Jamaica.
The benefits of the Bright Coop cage dumping system include labor savings both in the field and at the plant, marked improvements to the grade of the birds and the stability of the loads when in transit resulting in fewer truck/trailer rollovers. A Hot Dip galvanizing plant was built in 1985 in order to coat the system products with a finish guaranteed to last five years against rusting out.
In 1989, the pallet company was sold and Charles became 100% owner of the company.
Bright Coop had sold trailers in the poultry industry as a dealer, and in 1992 the business took the opportunity to purchase Viking Trailers, a small trailer company in Lufkin, Texas. Viking Trailers only produced a folding pole trailer for the forestry industry until Bright Coop purchased the company and relocated it to Nacogdoches, Texas. It was soon expanded and a complete line of forestry trailers, poultry trailers and specialized trailers were produced.
Also included in Bright Coop’s manufacturing processes is a rough terrain forklift manufacturing plant. Bright started manufacturing its own line of forklifts designed specifically for the poultry industry in 2004 after many years of distributing the K.D. Manitou brand. Bright Coop’s years of experience and knowledge of the poultry industry has enabled them to succeed in producing both 3-wheel and 4-wheel forklifts that are recognized both nationally and internationally as the preferred lifts in the poultry industry.
Bright Coop continues to work diligently on new ideas and concepts that will improve the way live poultry is handled. One of the more recent developments includes an E-Z Catch chicken harvester for loading chickens.
The examples set by the Brights beginning in 1951 of dedication to honesty, quality, service, good people and high regard for animal welfare continues in the daily working of company