WREDC loan is feather in the cap for local start-up
WORTHINGTON — A new Worthington-based poultry services business is serving farms in and around the four-state area.
Annette Kemper, 52, is the owner and her husband Antonio Perez Lorenzo, 39, is the operator. Together, the two combine to make Kempz Poultry Services. They started the business in September and have slowly but steadily expanded since.
Their services include vaccinations, debeaking, cleaning, transferring spent hens and loading and unloading. Though they mostly work with chickens and turkeys, Kempz can do anything a farm asks them to.
“But mainly poultry … poultry is the big money,” Kemper said with a smile.
The two have known that for awhile. It’s the massive demand for poultry services in the region that alerted them there was room for a new business.
Kemper was born in Adrian and after high school, she moved to Worthington. Perez Lorenzo moved to Worthington from Chiapas, Mexico eight years ago and has worked with poultry ever since.
“He’s always liked working in poultry and we always wanted to own our own business,” Kemper added.
Kempz has a contract with Sunrise Farms, a large chicken and egg-laying operation near Harris, Iowa, which provides their biggest source of work.
It isn’t an easy job, however, requiring early morning work and the wearing of masks to protect workers from intense levels of dust and dirt.
“It takes a certain kind of employee to work in poultry,” Kemper said. “Just imagine you go into a barn that’s longer than a football field and you’re just looking at 100,000 chickens ... and you have to go from cage to cage and vaccinate every one of them.”
Knowing firsthand how hard it is, Kempz tries to offer better wages for employees. The company employs about 20 part-time workers, all of whom are local.
The business provides its services in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Iowa, and eventually looks to expand to Wisconsin and Illinois.
The couple recently received an $8,000 loan from the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation (WREDC) to purchase a trailer, vaccination guns and various equipment.
The loan comes from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program, meant to provide loans to businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, persons with disabilities and people with low-income.
When setting up the business, the first person Kemper spoke with was Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. Director Abraham Algadi, who provided a plan.
“When I went into there to talk to him about it, he saw it ... and he still sees it,” Kemper said. “He’s very encouraging and a good mentor to have.”