The head of a Nashville-based, family-owned business recently was recognized by a statewide business publication.
Trey Braswell, 35, president of Braswell Family Farms, was named as one of the 2020 “Trailblazers of North Carolina” by Business North Carolina magazine.
The annual feature recognizes thriving business owners and professionals under the age of 40 who work in North Carolina cities and towns that have fewer than 100,000 residents.
The Braswell Family Farms is a four-generation business that is among the top producers of eggs and feed on the East Coast. It supplies 220,000 tons of feed and more than 60 million dozen eggs annually. With nearly 2 million hens, the 77-year-old company sells eggs under Eggland’s Best, Natural Choice, Nature’s Finest, Land O’Lakes and other private label brands.
Trey Braswell’s great-great-uncle J.M. Braswell and great-grandfather E.G. Braswell started the company in 1943 when they purchased Boddie Mill in Nashville, producing corn meal. E.G.’s sons, Ronald and Gene, joined the business in 1956 and grew the farm with the purchase of an old mill in Nashville from the Wayne Feeds franchise. They expanded into pullet production — growing young hens to sell to egg producers — and providing feed for chicken, pigs and cows.
“It’s grown over time, and each generation has added a little bit to that,” Trey Braswell said. “The Lord has been very kind to us. That’s kind of how I got started: a lot of blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice and God’s grace.”
Trey’s dad, Scott Braswell, joined in 1979, focusing on developing modern pullet and laying hen complexes that sped up production efficiency while maintaining a quality product. In the late 80s, the Braswells invested in a franchise of Eggland’s Best, a Malvern, Pa.-based industry cooperative formed in 1990 that is credited with reversing a slide in U.S. egg consumption.
The Braswells now run the second-largest Eggland’s Best franchise in the U.S.
Trey Braswell, an N.C. State University graduate with an executive MBA from the College of William and Mary, started working for the family business at a young age, sweeping the floors of the processing plant and other manual labor around the farm. He returned to work full time in 2008 after his dad struggled with some health issues.
“It was probably before I was prepared to or wanted to, but I just feel such a strong respect and gratitude for what the people in our company and my family members before me have done to steward the business,” Trey Braswell said. “It’s been hard at times, certainly been challenging. I really had no experience, and I just kind of jumped in. ... There were different kinds of people in my life that helped give guidance and by God’s grace, things have continued well and the Lord has grown me as a leader.”
Trey Braswell helped expand the farm, adding pullet and hen houses and overseeing the construction of the company’s first pasture-raised organic farm, which began production in early 2018. The business has achieved various certifications for humane treatment of animals and organic production. In 2017, Trey became president and oversaw a rebranding of the 200-employee company from Braswell Foods to its current name.
“We just didn’t give consumers a good idea of who we were and what we do,” Trey Braswell said. “There’s just such a need to tell our story. ... Braswell Family Farms provides a much better portrayal of our brands ... and helps people understand you may work on the farm or at the feedmill, but you’re part of this family and this company and here’s what we stand for and what we do.”
The business supports a variety of primarily Christian-based philanthropies including Samaritan’s Purse, Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Corporate Chaplains of America. In the midst of the pandemic, Braswell Family Farms donated 70,000 dozen eggs to regional food banks. “Because we believe this business is the Lord’s, it compels us to say our resources are not really just our resources,” Trey says. “Giving is a very important part of why we run the business.”
Trey Braswell also serves as president of the N.C. Egg Association, as a member of the national United Egg Producers’ board of directors and on the North Carolina board of addiction recovery nonprofit Hope Is Alive Ministries. He and his wife, Wimberly, have three children.