Mayor Jake Day, son of Perdue CEO Randy Day, declared April 13 as “Perdue Day” in Salisbury, Maryland as the city celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Salisbury processing plant and the Perdue brand.
He noted that the company is the largest employer headquartered in the city, with 22,000 employees.
Perdue brand is the No. 1 brand of fresh chicken and No. 1 organic brand in the United States with a rapidly growing portfolio of no-antibiotics-ever products under the Perdue, Perdue Simply Smart and Perdue Harvestland brands.
Let us share with you a story of Perdue’s rise from its humble beginnings courtesy of a post from delmarvanow.com.
In 1967, Frank Perdue set out for New York and Boston to find out what consumers of chicken really wanted.
His meetings with butchers throughout the Northeast led to a list of unique selling propositions to differentiate his chicken from the competition, said his son, Jim Perdue, who now serves as the company’s chairman.
“Before we processed our first chicken here, Dad asked customers what they wanted, and the people working in this plant delivered on those expectations,” Perdue said during Friday’s celebration.
And his competitors weren’t happy. Frank Perdue had figured out how to remove tiny feathers from the birds and make other improvements before they were shipped to market.
“He disrupted the chicken business as it was in that day,” Perdue said. “He was very disliked by a lot of the other competitors because they had to start improving their quality.”
In 1967, the company purchased the former Swift plant on Route 50 in Salisbury for $750,000. Renovations followed and the plant began processing its first broilers in 1968, marking the evolution from a local company raising chickens sold at live auctions to the fourth largest poultry company in the U.S.
Over the next few years, Perdue launched a radio advertising campaign in New York. That was followed by television ad campaign in 1971, and soon Frank Perdue and his chickens became household names.
John Cannon, president of the Wicomico County Council, said local residents who travel may encounter people who have never heard of Salisbury or Wicomico County, but they all know the Perdue name.
“If you tell them you’re from the home of Perdue, they know exactly who you are,” he said.
Back in 1968, the Perdue plant had a payroll of $1.5 million with 350 workers. Today, the payroll is $16.6 million for 600 employees.
Production has increased from 12 million birds per year to 60 million, and the plant has been expanded a few times through the years. In addition to broilers, the plant also processes Cornish hens.