Frank Perdue was a long-time president and CEO of Perdue Farms, the leader in the Eastern United States in chicken production. Perdue Farms is also known globally for its quality, service, and reliability in food and agricultural production rooting back to Perdue’s leadership, hard work, and focus on quality and that of his father Arthur, the original founder of the company, which started out with a small flock of chickens.
Franklin (Frank) Parsons Perdue was born on May 9, 1920 in Salisbury, Maryland to Arthur and Pearl Perdue. As a very young boy Frank loved helping his parents with the chickens at their then fledgling company. When he was ten Frank had his own flock of fifty laying hens, which earned him many awards in 4-H and around $20 a month. However, this shy reserved young man had no interest in entering the business world and was really not one others would pick out as a future business leader. Frank was very interested in baseball and dreamed of a career playing professionally, however he did not have the talents necessary to make that dream reality, which he soon realized.
Perdue attended college at Salisbury State Teacher’s College, but a farm boy at heart, returned to his father’s company in 1939, at the age of 19 and became the company’s third full-time employee. The company began growing by leaps and bounds as the United States recovered from the Great Depression and the demand for eggs increased significantly. Perdue and his father decided that they could increase profits by focusing on meat production as opposed to egg production. This turned out to be a very good move and by the time Frank took over his father’s company at the age of 32 in 1952, it was earning over six million dollars per year. At that time Frank had only just begun implementing strategies to grow a poultry empire, what Perdue Farms would originally become.
Over the next few decades, Frank invested in grain facilities, feed mills, soybean refineries, and processing plants that allowed the company to continue to expand. He came up with the idea to put marigold blossoms into a specially formulated chicken feed to give the skins of his chickens a distinguished yellow hue to make sure they stood out from what was produced by his competitors. Frank commited himself to sales and traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard promoting his chickens and products. He personally attended supermarket openings and later headed a famous advertising campaign that couldn’t help but draw the public in and believe in him, his company, and his products. He often visited chicken farmers and was a person who was well-known by many, he related to customers and potential customers on a personal level, something the public really admired. Frank always wanted be at the top of the poultry industry, he was never satisfied with second place and worked tirelessly to prevent falling from the top.
Frank married three times and had four children and two step-children. His son, Jim, succeeded him as president and CEO of Perdue farms in 1991. In his later years, Frank suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. He passed away on March 31, 2005 after a brief illness and will always be associately closely with the success of his family’s company.
1. Frank Perdue
2. Following a brief illness, Frank Perdue dies at age 84 – Apr. 1, 2005