ZEELAND, Mich. – Jack DeWitt, who co-founded Big Dutchman in 1938 with his brother, Dick DeWitt, died at his home in Zeeland, Mich., on Jan. 6. He was 100 years old.
Big Dutchman is a major player in automated poultry and swine production systems. Jack DeWitt and Dick DeWitt founded the company in 1938 when they sought to market their automated poultry feeder. The “Big Dutchman” automated poultry feeder was the first automatic feeding system, featuring the flat chain concept, which remains the most popular poultry feeding technology in use currently, according to the company
“We had a pretty good idea that sure beat shoveling out bird feed by hand," Dick DeWitt once said. "We just had to take it out to the rest of the world.”
Big Dutchman was an established successful business by the early 1950s, and the brothers planned to establish plants and sales forces in their Netherlands homeland and other European countries, according to the company. In 1958, they added Josef Meerpohl as a sales representative in Germany. Meerpohl would later become sole owner of Big Dutchman. During his career, Jack DeWitt earned several awards and federal recognition for his contributions to foreign trade. He sold his interest in the company in 1968.
Bernd Meerpohl, Josef Meerpohl's son, currently runs the company. Big Dutchman has headquarters in Germany with over 2,000 employees and subsidiaries on every continent, according to the company.