Today, Prime Equipment Group is known worldwide for its reliable, innovative and effective poultry processing machines. But the company has humble beginnings.
It starts with the Gasbarro family, which still runs the company today. In 1939, Vincenzo Gasbarro immigrated to the U.S. from Italy with his wife, daughter, Mary, and three sons, Nick, Geno and Alio. Vincenzo started a small business to sell live chickens to customers. Within a few years, they were selling cleaned birds, as well, from their Washington Poultry company in Columbus.
The brothers entered military service during the Korean war, and returned to join the family business. By 1953, the brothers had taken over the operations of the company, with Geno focusing on developing machines that automated chicken processing. They sold Washington Poultry in 1967, and by 1969 started a joint venture with Col. Saunders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken to develop processing machines to speed the growing chain’s production.
Geno produced several innovations for KFC. At the time, KFC marinated their chicken for 24 hours before cooking. Geno devised a machine that could do the job in just 10 minutes using a patented vacuum tumbling process. Nearly 4,000 Vacuum Marinators were built and installed in restaurants.
Geno also developed the first automated cut-up equipment for Kentucky Fried Chicken that could be configured multiple ways to speed food preparation--as well as an entire miniature line to batter, bread and fry chicken in each restaurant.
By 1974 Geno and his brothers returned to the chicken processing business, running their own processing plants in Atlanta and Gainesville through the 1980s. Geno continued to develop machines, amassing more than 40 patents.
Along the way, Geno’s sons, Michael and Joseph, grew up in the chicken business, and by 1992, when Geno formed Prime Equipment Group, his sons joined that endeavor. Now, Mike is CEO, while Joe is President. Now, as then, the company focuses exclusively on poultry processing machine development, production and sales, with a complete line of more than 60 machines for various processes.
R&D, manufacturing and sales are done from a three-building complex in Columbus, Ohio. With the acquisition of Diversified Machine Products in Georgia in 2010, the company gained an additional manufacturing and sales plant in Gainesville.
Prime Equipment Group has expanded in recent years with global sales, and the company now runs sales and service offices in Mexico, Russia and Brasil, with additional sales agents around the world who sell Prime’s made-in-America equipment.