When it comes to its new Gainesville business, the Gay family hopes it’s a dog-eat-healthy-treats world.
“Pets are family members, and they deserve treats that are delicious, nutritious and made from the highest quality ingredients,” said Thomas Gay, president of Big Creek Foods.
“We are excited about starting up our new facility and bringing innovative products to this growing market.”
He and brother Jeff grew up in the catfish and poultry processing industries. They founded the company in 2013, opening its plant at 2637 White Sulphur Road in June.
The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday with Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce officials and dignitaries, including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and city and Hall County leaders.
Cagle, a longtime family friend, said he believes the company’s product, which has nationwide distribution with expansion planned in Canada, “has the ability to really penetrate the market in a huge way.”
“This is what entrepreneurship is all about.”
The company has 20 employees, with plans to expand soon to 25.
“We’ll add a second shift within two-to-four months, in which case, we may even double (employment),” Thomas Gay said.
Big Creek Foods “reflects the kind of homegrown business that we seek to cultivate in Georgia,” said Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“Our competitive business climate, advanced workforce and small business community make it easy for startup companies to flourish here.”
Big Creek makes and distributes all-natural dog treats using food safety standards found in human food production.
“There’s a lot of attention these days about imported pet treats being unsafe for pets,” Thomas Gay said. “The level of quality that pet owners are seeking for their (dog) food and treats has continued to increase.”
The company, named after Big Creek in Ellijay, where the family owns some property, has launched a brand named “Look Who’s Happy,” but also “will provide private label production for other companies,” he said.
Customers interested in the product need to look for it at smaller, independent stores versus larger chains, such as PetSmart and Petco, Gay said.
Cat treats may come later, he said.
“We have some interest in that right now,” Gay said. “We made some salmon treats and our sales manager said his cat just absolutely attacked him.”