CLIFFORD WILLARD TILSON
Mr. Clifford W. Tilson was born in Mars Hill, North Carolina on March 22, 1900. He attended Mars Hill College and graduated from N.C. State in 1924.
Mr. Tilson started his career as a county agricultural agent in 1924 and was appointed as the first general manager of the newly organized Farmers Mutual Exchange in Durham in 1930. This cooperative later became known as Central Carolina Farmers Exchange. The cooperative started with 400 farmers and $2,400 in capital and grew under Mr. Tilson’s leadership to 15,000 members and 68 million dollars in total volume by 1975.
The potential for agricultural in Durham and surrounding counties was recognized by Mr.Tilson and he started the first poultry and egg processing and marketing cooperative in the area. The poultry plant connected with this operation was one of the first processing plants in North Carolina. Mr. Tilson employed Mr. H.C. Kennett, one of the Hall of Fame members, as the manager of the poultry marketing department. Central Carolina Farmers' growth and success was largely due to Mr. Tilson’s efforts and his ability to select superior managers and dedicated employees. Central Carolina Farmers grew under his leadership to one of the leading egg marketing and processing firms in the state.
In 1965, Mr. Tilson guided CCF in a joint venture with Gold Kist Poultry to handle the broiler production, processing, and marketing phases of the business. This venture has grown rapidly with the addition of new facilities including feed mill, hatchery, and modernization of processing facilities. Mr. Tilson has long been recognized as a strong community and industry leader. He has particularly been interested in the development of the North Carolina State University Alumni Association, the Foundation, and is an ardent Wolfpack fan. He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities at N. C. State in 1957, was selected as Alumnus of the Year in 1960, and as Food Processor of the Year in 1969.
Mr. Tilson has been a true pioneer and innovative leader in recognizing the potential of poultry and in developing an organization that has been a pace setter in the poultry industry. The North Carolina Poultry Federation is pleased to honor him as a member of the North Carolina Poultry Hall of Fame.