By Zirconia Alleyne
A business started by accident, Luttrull Feeds is nearing its 20th birthday next year, and what better way to celebrate than being named Agri-Business of the Year at the 2015 Salute to Agriculture Eye Opener Breakfast hosted by the Christian County Chamber of Commerce.
Brothers Ronny and Danny Luttrull decided to start a feeding service in 1996 after Ronny lost his right eye in an accident.
At the time, Ronny had a side job delivering feed but couldn’t work for three months after his injury. Danny, 63, was working in a factory at the time but would help Ronny, 60, with his deliveries after he got off.
“I enjoyed doing it, and I thought it might be something we could do together,” Danny said. “We started from just a little delivery truck and within a year or so, we bought — I think we leased (a building) — then at the end of that year, we bought it.”
Their trade was simply delivering feed that they bought at a supplier in Hopkinsville and reselling it to farmers to feed their livestock, but soon, the brothers figured they could mix their own feed, sell and deliver it themselves.
They built a small building, just on the other side of the railroad tracks in Pembroke — right next to a building where their dad used to work. Then, they bought a mixer, a front-end loader and food ingredients from supplier Archer Daniels and Midland to develop their
animal feed options.
Luttrull Feeds produces and sells food for horses, beef cattle, goats, chickens, rabbits, sheep and “pretty much any animal raised around here,” Ronny said. Production has grown to 500 tons a week, or 26,000 tons a year, he said.
They get “99 percent” of their ingredients from the area, like distillers grain from Hopkinsville Elevator, canola meal from AgStrong in Trenton and corn from local farmers.
“When we started we were just delivering small bags (of animal feed), and then we grew into bulk,” Danny said.
They’ve added their own bagging equipment and machines to make their own pellets. They’ve built on to the first building five or six times, Ronny estimated, including a drive-thru feed and animal-supply store for customers.
They’ve bought more trucks, hired 14 employees, and their wives, Betsy and Brenda, along with their adult children, have taken on more active roles in the company as well.
Ronny said Luttrull Feeds “grew with us” over the years. Neither had experience owning a business but they learned the ropes together.
They put in hours of overtime to get Luttrull Feeds where it is today.
“The main thing that people don’t understand is how much work is really involved in owning your own business,” Danny said. “We worked six days a week, 12 hours a day in the beginning, — and of course there was the
Ronny said,“You realize you have a lot of people depending on you to get their checks, and with us, most of those people are family.”
Ronny and Danny have two younger brothers who are also involved in agriculture, and the older duo said owning a business together has brought them closer.
Taking the agri-business of the year award is an honor, the owners said, and they know they couldn’t have kept the business going without one another. Ronny is responsible for “the sales,” and Danny is “the brains,” they said.
“I think that’s what makes it work,” Danny said. “I realize I need him, and he knows he needs me, so it works out good that way.”
“I really don’t like what he does,” Ronny joked, glancing at his brother.
“And, I don’t like what he does either,” Danny jabbed back with a smile.