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When Mr. Wendell Clarke, Managing Director, was asked about his philosophy of life he indicated that it was bound up with his relationship with Christ since he depends on God and aims to work and live as a Christian. This philosophy is reflected in the awardwinning company he formed approximately 30 years ago that has identified its mission as providing the ‘best product with the best service’.

After rearing birds on a part-time basis and selling to neighbours, Mr. Clarke followed his brother into agriculture and in 1987 Star Chick Limited (SCL) officially began as a layer operation with 2,500 birds and two employees. He first heard of Enterprise Growth Fund Limited (EGFL) in 1998 when the organization was started to provide concessionary finance to small and medium enterprises in Barbados and decided to approach EGFL for financial advice.

Through the financing obtained from EGFL, the company shifted from conventional layer pens scattered over five locations to a wind tunnel pen with a capacity of 48,000 layers. This change allowed him to use the traditional pens to expand the company into broiler production and thereafter to invest in additional wind tunnel pens to house approximately 50,000 broilers and start a processing plant. In recent times, additional investment in technology has led to some of the energy for the plant being provided by a hybrid system consisting of a 40kW PV Fuel Save diesel generator. A 900m3 biogas production plant is also in the process of being commissioned.

…learn the business aspect
and above all “study the
behaviour of chickens to
determine the best treatment
for any situation.”

When Mr. Clarke was pressed for what he considered to be the critical ingredients to having quality birds and poultry products, he indicated that quality inputs of healthy baby chicks and feed, sanitary conditions and consistent monitoring of broilers and layers during their growing period are all essential. Once those precepts are followed and the broilers and eggs are processed by a plant which conforms to the Good Manufacturing Practices as verified by the Ministry of Health here in Barbados and ideally HACCP certified as SCL is, the expectation is a quality product. His advice to any young person who is interested in entering the poultry business is to remember those ingredients, learn the business aspect and above all “study the behaviour of chickens to determine the best treatment for any situation.”

No business model can be
perceived as being perfect,
however; it is dynamic
and therefore continued
improvements should be
made as weaknesses are

One of the ongoing challenges for Star Chick Limited and the poultry industry is related to the increase in availability of imported chicken wings. Mr. Clarke believes that the solution lies in an educational campaign highlighting the consumer benefits of purchasing local poultry. The argument that local poultry is not treated with antibiotics and is therefore healthier to consume should be clearly articulated. Furthermore, the myth that chicken wings provide good value for money can be counteracted by explaining that a better protein to bone ratio is provided by drumsticks and Star Chick’s own ‘chopmix’.

The economic recession in recent times has led to reduced consumption and an increased marketing push by competitors. Maximizing efficiencies and knowing the margins are therefore even more important for processors. Mr. Clarke suggested that it is necessary to plan placement of birds to mirror the projected sales so that storage costs can be minimized. To further reduce the potential of failure, he has indicated that emphasis on recordkeeping will provide the financial information on which most decisions should be based.

Management should also take advantage of the existing technology to monitor the livestock during the rearing as well as during the slaughtering phases. No business model can be perceived as being perfect, however; it is dynamic and therefore continued improvements should be made as weaknesses are identified.

The major environmental challenge for Star Chick Limited is related to the disposal of waste. The company initially paid for its disposal and supplied some to larger farms for fertilizer. The cost and inconvenience encountered with the mentioned methods led management to explore alternatives. To eliminate waste disposal cost, power the plant and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, Star Chick Limited has investing in a bio-digester to produce methane. However, this plant is yet to be completed.

SCL prides itself on its contribution to the future in providing internships for students studying livestock farming with the Agricultural Division of the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology. This community-minded owner has also made contributions to the Parish Ambassadors of both St. Peter and St. Lucy.

When asked about managing his time Mr. Clarke stated that he believes that you make time for what you want to do. Therefore, although he is involved in his business and related organisations, church and the community, he makes time to go to the beach and to play tennis so that his health remains at a satisfactory level.

Mr. Clarke complimented the members of staff at EGFL for their assistance and good advice. He has indicated that although you need to comply with the detailed requirements for a business plan and the related financial information, the organization has proven its willingness to work with clients in ways suited to their economic circumstances. He considered EGFL to be a helpful developmental institution for businesses such as Star Chick Limited.