NFIB/Alabama Member Profile: Dell and Carolyn Hill, owners, Selwood Farm

Date: January 19, 2016

Small business owners transformed agricultural company into beloved recreational farm.

“In some shape, form or fashion, we have been in business since 1968,” says Dell Hill, who owns Selwood Farm in Alpine with his wife, Carolyn.

It all started with Dell’s parents, who ran an agricultural operation raising turkeys, which evolved into a mail-order business selling smoked turkeys. After Dell’s father died, Dell and Carolyn returned to Talladega, Dell’s hometown, to continue the business. In the process, they decided to expand the product line and use the family’s farmland as pasture for a cattle operation.

“The economy of 1979 to 1981 [with] 20 percent interest and Jimmy Carter nearly put us under with the cattle,” Dell says.

However, they pushed forward and in 1984 opened one of the first quail hunting preserves in the state. Six years later, they added the first sporting clays range in Alabama. Today, Selwood Farm is purely recreational, offering bird hunting, sporting clays and charming countryside accommodations. Thousands of people come through Selwood—which means “the king’s hunting forest”—each year.

“We started the recreational use of the land out of necessity,” Dell says. “We had to do something with the land to make it profitable. In 1984, fee hunting was unknown for the most part and somewhat ahead of the curve. However, it became an acceptable recreational venture.”

Selwood Farm, Dell says, has experienced wonderful growth almost exclusively on word of mouth and with very little advertising.

“Seeing your business grow and prosper, as well as seeing people enjoy your business, is a real source of pleasure,” he says. “After 30 years, we have seen young people grow up and now [they’re] bringing their children to hunt and shoot. Probably the best part [of the job] is seeing people and families enjoying time in a recreational environment and Selwood staff making friends.”

Selwood will also continue for another generation, Dell says, because his son, Alan, and daughter, Mary Lyn, are both involved with the business.

Part of Selwood’s ability to continue on is because of small business lobbying support.

“NFIB is truly the voice of small business,” he says. “As governments—state and federal—continue to control more and more [with] regulations and taxes, small business needs a strong advocate. NFIB provides this voice.”

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