The story of Hickman’s Family Farms begins with Guy and Nell Hickman, who in 1944 began selling eggs out of their backyard in Glendale, AZ. Their son, Bill, eventually took over the egg farming operation with his wife, Gertie, in 1957. In 1995 a population boom prompted the Hickman's to move their operations 40 miles west to Arlington, AZ, where they could “secure affordable available land for long-term growth.”
In 1997, the third generation assumed control of the business. Four of the five Hickman children currently run the outfit. Glen, president, and Billy, vice president, form the company’s executive team and are its majority owners; Clint and Sharman handle the company’s public relations and marketing efforts.
With new leadership in place, the company began to explore new revenue opportunities.
“Everything ties into waste management, recycling and enhancing the eggs,” Billy Hickman explains. “Everything here is trying to enhance something we’re producing.”
Beyond cartoned eggs, Hickman's liquid egg product and hard-cooked egg plants are housed at the Arlington location.
Hickman’s hard-cooked operation was put in to place to deal with the cycling demand for medium and small eggs. Hickman explains: “Retail customers, consumers and restaurants always want large eggs. Mediums were a discounted product, but selling the hard-cooked eggs by the pound provides an outlet when sales aren’t good. The same goes for our investment in a breaking plant and the liquid products.”
The company also runs The Farms Choice, a pelleted fertilizer and compost business, in Arlington. This portion of the business is a green initiative for ensuring sustainable growth and environmental stewardship.
Hickman also points to the success of its fertilizer business, "a necessary evil" which ultimately became a revenue stream.
“As you produce more manure, you have to find outlets for it — and you need to find these outlets before you have waste to handle,” he says.
The Hickman’s entered the roll-off business two years ago, working with golf courses and municipalities on their green waste initiatives.
The Farms Choice handles more than 100,000 wet tons of fertilizer annually.
Currently, Hickman’s does not have a processing outlet so layers are added to the compost pile at the end of their production cycle.
“We’re only a couple of steps away from investing in a rendering plant to turn the hens into a useful feed source for pet food or dairies,” he explains.
As Hickman’s Family Farms continues to grow, it also plans to build a packaging manufacturing facility.