FRANKLIN PARSONS PERDUE
Franklin Parsons Perdue was born on the Delmarva Peninsula in 1920, the same year his father, Arthur W. Perdue, built a chicken coop, bought 23 Leghorn pullets at a total cost of`$5.00, and entered the table egg business. Young Frank was raised in a hard-working, visionary family, while his father labored to establish a business in Salisbury, Maryland, the area’s main commercial center in the 1920s.
Frank’s first hands-on venture into the poultry business came at the age of ten when Ire was given 50 laying hens to oversee, culls from his fathers flock. Under Frank’s care, the hens produced well and earned him $10 to $20 per month. Later, following graduation from high school, Frank attended a local area college for two years and then joined the family business in 1939. Beginning with just three employees, including Frank and his father, the family business grew and evolved from selling table eggs to hatching and growing broilers.
In 1950, when Frank Perdue took over the leadership of the family Business, the company, with its 40 employees, had grown into one of the largest chicken businesses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The company steadily continued to grow; and in 1968, Frank decided to market his own brand of chicken. This prompted the company’s first advertising campaign, successfully initiated on New York City radio. Television and other forms of advertising followed, gaining the Perdue name broad recognition. Frank later became Perdue’s on-camera spokesperson, clearly capturing on film his deep and heartfelt belief in his products. The rest is history.
Now, Perdue Farms is the third largest integrated poultry producer in the country, marketing to almost -10% of the nation’s population. It employs nearly 18,000 associates in Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Several thousand farm families are associated with Perdue Farms, many depending on the company for their own full-time incomes, others for a stable supplement to their incomes
Today, Frank’s son, Jim Perdue, is Chairman of the Board of Perdue Farms, the Third Generation of Perdues to head the family business. In January of 1995, Jim’s responsibilities as chairman expanded when franks passed the torch of company advertising spokesperson to is son, having made 175 commercials over a period of 24 years. Frank’s overall business philosophy was and is simple: "I was always interested in being the best rather than the biggest." Therefore, while he methodically built one of the most progressive food companies in America, Frank also found time to be heavily involved in poultry industry affairs and activities. He served on the board of directors of the National Broiler Council and the Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI). He has endowed Salisbury State University with funding to establish the Perdue schools of business, and he served for five years on the Board of Regents of the University of Maryland. In keeping with one o Frank’s greatest loves- baseball- he was instrumental in bringing the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds baseball ream to Salisbury in 1996, also building a stadium there in honor of his father, Arthur W. Perdue.
In North Carolina, Frank Perdue is certainly well known and respected, having spent more than 40 years working with farmers and growers to build his business. Frank surrounded himself with associates who recognized the opportunities offered by the State of North Carolina: rural settings and expansive farmland able to support and maintain a fast-growing poultry business. Frank attributes the success of Perdue Farms in North Carolina to the strong work ethic, energy and enthusiasm of its people; to the state’s favorable climate for business, as well as farming; and to its location and proximity to major northeastern markets. Frank remains active in Perdue Farms, currently serving as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.
Through his keen vision, passion for quality and ability to create marketplace demand, Frank Perdue has become an enduring symbol of entrepreneurial success. His driving work ethic and approach to marketing opportunities are legendary, having transformed a small family farming operation into a multi-billion dollar agricultural complex. Today, Perdue Farms’ enviable success story fills many pages in business and marketing textbooks.
In honor of` his numerous contributions to the growth and development of North Carolina’s and the nation’s poultry food industry the Officers and Directors of the North Carolina Poultry Federation are very pleased to induct Franklin Parsons Perdue into the North Carolina Poultry Hall of Fame.
August 28. I998