Amadas chief dies

Published 10:50 pm Saturday, April 19, 2014

Following his death on Friday, family and colleagues remembered Dr. Stanley Brantley Jr. for his passion to improve the world of agricultural technology.

Brantley, 66, fought a short battle with cancer but continued working at Suffolk’s Amadas Industries until the end.

Brantley held a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and put it to good use for decades at Amadas, formerly Hobbs-Adams Engineering Company. He started work there in 1976 as an engineer and later came to lead the engineering department, eventually becoming president in 2006.

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He led the team that developed the world’s first self-propelled, eight-row peanut harvester and worked on many other projects that have propelled the company to the upper echelon of agricultural technology worldwide.

“He truly was a brilliant engineer,” said Jim Adams, chief executive officer of Amadas. “It (Brantley’s work) did a lot for Amadas in the United States.”

Brantley’s work encompassed not only combines but also irrigation and wastewater systems for agriculture.

“He could develop and design and bring it to fruition,” Adams said. “It’s not just coming up with an idea; you’ve got to develop and test it for years. He would field-test; he would be out in the field for days.”

Adams said Brantley also was a good leader.

“He brought together a great team of people,” Adams said. “He was a good leader, and he had an ability to bring together some brilliant young engineers. He was very demanding of himself, and he encouraged them to work at the same level he did, because he worked long hours.”

Kermit Hobbs, who worked with Brantley for about 33 years, said Brantley was more hands-on than most engineers.

“He spent a lot of time in the field, traveling and so forth,” Hobbs said. He said he and Brantley could talk about an idea in the morning and start putting it into effect in the afternoon, free of the bureaucracy that colleagues at larger companies suffered from.

“He was very creative and very insightful,” Hobbs said.

John Wagner, vice president of Amadas, said Brantley’s work in the Argentina market not only propelled the company’s products forward there but also revolutionized the country’s peanut production.

“He was very instrumental in changing the way they harvest peanuts down in Argentina,” Wagner said. “Without Stan’s continued efforts down there and trips down there, Argentina would not be the player in the world peanut market that they are today.”

Brantley’s sons said their father had great hope for the future of agriculture and its ability to change the world.

“He always thought it was so important that agriculture helped bring people together in a common way to improve humanity and the way it transcended a lot of things people might disagree on otherwise,” Jason Brantley said. “He saw that as a great force in the world and lived that every day.”

Matthew Brantley worked at Amadas with his father for about 15 years.

“He cared very, very much for doing the best job he could,” Matthew Brantley said, recalling traveling to South America and all over the United States with his father to work with clients. “He looked forward to the new challenges he found in those places and a creative way to successfully meet them.”

Matthew Brantley said his father, as a dad, enjoyed competition and always made sure he did everything he could to set his sons up for success. His father was also deeply religious and had high values.

“The right thing was going to be done if he was going to be a part of it,” Brantley said.

Adams also remarked on how Brantley’s faith translated into how he lived his life.

“He didn’t have any bad habits, except he went to work too much,” Adams said. “He didn’t throw wrenches and curse at the machines.”

Wagner added that Brantley demonstrated great humility in his work.

“Many times when engineers design things, they’re so proud of what they’ve done that they don’t accept the criticism particularly well,” Wagner said. “Stan was great at taking feedback and bringing it into the continued development of the product.”

Brantley participated in community activities, too, as a member of the Wakefield Ruritan Club and Rocky Hock United Methodist Church and on the board at Paul D. Camp Community College and the Surry County Board of Social Services.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Dyanne Seward Brantley; his two sons and a daughter, Melissa Ebert, and their spouses; and seven grandchildren.