Over a decade, a Clifton Springs resident has built his chicken coop business into a million-dollar operation

CLIFTON SPRINGS — Matt DuBoise’s love of chickens began in fifth grade when his teacher let a handful of students each take six chicks they had hatched home and care for them before bringing them back to class.

DuBoise, who was one of the students chosen, was the only one who returned to school with all six chicks healthy and thriving.

“That was when I knew I wanted to raise chickens when I got older,” he said.

While the lesson sparked his interest in raising chickens, the Clifton Springs resident did not know it would lead to a successful business venture.

DuBoise is the president of Carolina Coops, which designs and builds chicken coops. The business is a division of DuBoise Enterprises Inc.

The coops are handcrafted with premium materials, and can be prefabricated or custom designed. The business also sells coop accessories.

Carolina Coops has a dozen employees. DuBoise’s partner, Gnon Choi, is the company’s executive administrator.

Since its inception, it has continued to grow. Carolina Coops has doubled its revenues every year and two years ago hit the $1 million mark in sales. Revenues this year are expected to hit near $1.7 million.

The business began in 2009 in North Carolina, where DuBoise was living at the time.

DuBoise had not planned to start a chicken coop business and had been working as an exterminator for some 15 years.

Restless with the slow pace of work during the economic recession of 2008, he began building a chicken coop for two chickens he was raising at his home. He used recycled wood and other materials he came across to build the structure.

Pleased with the job, DuBoise posted the coop for sale on Craigslist to see if there was any interest.

There was. The structure sold in half an hour. He built another coop, which sold for even more. Eventually he had orders weekly.

To DuBoise — who had always wanted to be an entrepreneur — it felt like winning the lottery.

“I’d always wanted to make something that people love so much they wanted to buy it,” he said.

DuBoise was surprised at the number of people who had backyard chickens.

“I had no idea I was starting to do something that was going to be so cool,” he said, adding that fresh eggs taste much better than store-bought ones.

DuBoise already had a background in woodworking, but he worked with a chicken expert in North Carolina and watched YouTube videos to continue to develop his skill.

He also listened to his customers. He enjoys taking their ideas and turning them into viable designs.

A recent coop made for a customer in Alabama, for example, included hand-cut cedar shake roofing, arched windows, reclaimed barnwood and a style that complemented the customer’s custom-built home on the property.

DuBoise and Choi moved back to the area in 2012 and continued to grow Carolina Coops.

It was first housed in a building in Shortsville, but DuBoise purchased the current building in Clifton Springs and moved the business there about 1-1/2 years ago.

Carolina Coops can ship to anywhere in the world. The business has had customers in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as in Canada and Europe.

The coops weigh around 1,000 pounds, and models range in price from $1,750 to $4,995. Rates for custom coops vary, as do shipping charges.

All the coops have the company’s signature deep litter bed system, which composts waste and greatly reduces the amount of times one has to clean it out.

Carolina Coops also gives back to the community. The business works with Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District on a chicken hatching program for elementary students and has also built a coop for a boy through the Make- A-Wish Foundation.

The key to the company’s success comes from its superior customer service, quality construction and variety of options available, DuBoise said.

“We have a coop for every budget and every backyard,” he says.