BIO-CAT mourns the loss of Brian Huffman, co-founder and vice-president of operations of the company. Brian passed away on Tuesday, December 31, 2013. He had worked at BIO-CAT since its inception in 1988.
Brian also served as vice chairman of the Louisa County School Board and was reelected to a fourth term as the Green Springs district representative this past November. He was involved in many community organizations, including the Louisa County Agricultural Fair Board, the Louisa 4-H and FFA, the Louisa Santa Council and Backpack Blessings. He was a supporter of the Gordonsville Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary and was a member of Farm Bureau and the Gordonsville Lions Club. In addition, Brian was involved in helping area youth and volunteered countless hours to help support children and teens.
A memorial service was held on January 8 with more than 400 people in attendance. BIO-CAT has set up a scholarship fund in Brian’s honor at Louisa High School.
Friends and co-workers recall their favorite memories of Brian:
Mr. Ed Schuler, CEO at BIO-CAT, hired Brian when Brian was 19 years old. When he offered Brian the role of production manager, Brian was stunned and said, “Do you think I can handle this job?” Mr. Schuler adamantly said yes. “I have supervised over 100 people in my lifetime, and Brian was the hardest and most dependable worker of all. He was the best employee; he was innovative and never made a mistake.” Mr. Schuler recalled the time when BIO-CAT was in its infancy and had visitors from Japan; Brian spent three days taking the visitors’ spouses to tourist spots around Virginia. “Brian was a tremendous asset to the company and a terrific asset to people outside the company, too.”
After listening to various stories at Brian’s funeral regarding his community involvement, BIO-CAT’s President Chris Schuler said, “I don’t know how he found the time to do it all.” Chris recalled the old days when it was just he, his dad and Brian calling customers, making sales calls, blending products and packaging enzymes. Chris said, “We’ve come a long way since then. I am going to really miss working with Brian.”
Patrick Woodson calls Brian “a human GPS.” He knew exactly where everything was. Patrick went on to say that Brian “knew loads of information; he knew everything and could talk about anything to anyone. He was the communications link within the company. He made things happen.”
Kelly Gregory said, “He was the kind of person that even if you didn’t know him well, he would help you. He was always willing to help.” Kelly mentioned a time when Brian brought over scaffolding after an earthquake to help with her house. “He barely even knew me, and yet he offered to help,” said Kelly.
Dottie Davis said, “You didn’t even have to ask, he stepped up to the plate; he always extended his hand” as she recalled one year that Brian brought a trailer full of pumpkins to give to preschool kids for Halloween.
Kacy Perkins, who has known Brian since she was a baby, said, “Brian was selfless; he wanted to help others without any recognition.” Kacy shared a sentimental story dating to when she was 13 years old and working at Brian’s dog kennel. She would let the dogs out of their cages based on how cute they looked or which dogs looked as if they wanted to be let out first. She said Brian came running over and kindly suggested that perhaps she employ a different system so that she could remember which dogs she had let out. She also fondly recalled his fashion sense outside of work: a camouflage buttondown shirt, shorts and boots, a nod to his love to hunt and travel.
Tammy Perkins said Brian hired her; she worked with him daily for ten years. “Not only did he have a huge impact on the success of BIO-CAT but on the success of our employees. Most days he made his way through the building stopping to speak with everyone he saw. I will miss those visits to my office most of all.”
Julie Litz warmly recalls the time she and Brian flew out to see a customer in the Midwest. When she mentioned that she had never been to the Ozark Mountains, he insisted that they drive there so she could see them. They drove four hours to get there. At the time, Julie complained about the long trip, but now she values the time they spent together. She said, “Brian took great interest in everyone. Even though the company has grown tremendously, he knew everyone’s names and information about their lives, such as where they were from, who they were dating and where they went for vacation.” Julie fondly recalled the time that one of the girls in the lab had to bring her four-year-old son into the office because his daycare was closed. It was close to Easter, and Brian gathered a bunch of Easter eggs and hid them in the office again and again for the little boy to find.
Katie Lecker shared that when she first started working at BIO-CAT, fresh out of college, Brian continuously gave her a hard time about her shoes. At first it was her high heels, then her flip-flops, and of course, flats in the snow. No matter which shoes she chose, Brian seemed to think that if someone were to chase her, she would have a hard time keeping up. In 2012, Katie had the pleasure of traveling to South Africa with Brian to meet with a customer. She said Brian was a confident travel companion, especially in a foreign country. The day before they left she received an email from Brian with no subject. It read, “The customer suggested a light jacket and footwear approved by your father.” Brian took one picture the entire trip; he requested I email it to my dad.
Mr. Sherman T. Shifflett, Chairman for Louisa County School Board, said “Brian and I became very good friends being on the school board together; we thought alike and both believed in focusing on student achievement, school safety and discipline. Brian had an unbelievable memory. One time I called him and said that we needed to change a policy. He said, “Oh, we changed that in our April 2008 meeting”.
Mr. Shifflett said that although Brian was a go-getter and extremely active in the community, he often worked behind the scenes and did not want any recognition. Less than 45 minutes after an earthquake in August 2011, Brian called him and wanted to know what he was doing. He told Brian that he was cleaning up his house, which had been severely damaged. Brian said, “Your house may be damaged, but the high school is destroyed. Meet me in front of the school in 30 minutes.” Mr. Shifflett said, “When Brian was around, there was always laughter. He was one of my best friends, and I loved him like a brother.”
Brian was known for reminding the Louisa County School Board, “It’s not about you, it’s not about your agenda, it’s not about reelection. It’s about the kids. We are here for the kids.”