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Our Legacy

A Commitment To Family Ownership

Three generations: Jim, Frank and Arthur Perdue in the 1950s.

Our Family

Our company has remained family-owned and operating since 1920. Two generations currently work in the company and the family is committed to keeping Perdue Farms a family-owned business.

Family Leadership

Picture of Arthur Perdue

Arthur W. Perdue

In 1920, Arthur W. Perdue completed his plan for going into business for himself. He gave up a promising career as a railroad agent on the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland to manage his backyard table-egg business.

Mr. Arthur, as everyone called him, was known for his concern for people, his frugality, his love of reading and poetry, and a dedication to his faith and hard work. His values of quality, integrity, trust and teamwork still make an impact on our company today. Mr. Arthur was active in the business up until his death in 1977 at age 91.

Picture of Frank Perdue

Frank Perdue

Frank Perdue began helping his father as soon as he was big enough to hold a chick in two hands.
In 1939, at the age of 19, Frank Perdue left college to join the family business as its third full-time employee. Frank took over leadership of the business in 1950, nurturing the company through a period of phenomenal growth. He invested in the grain facilities, feed mills, soybean refinery and processing plants that allowed the company to expand into fresh poultry. Through his now-famous advertising campaign, which stressed his stubborn commitment to quality, he made the PERDUE® brand a household name.

Picture of Jim Perdue

Jim Perdue

Jim Perdue grew up in the family business, but didn’t decide to make it his career right away. In 1983, he accepted his dad Frank’s invitation to return to the family business, joining the company as an entry-level management trainee in quality assurance.

After working many different management jobs in just about every area of the company and earning his master’s degree in business administration along the way, Jim became chairman in 1991 and took over as advertising spokesperson in 1995.

Jim is guiding the company in its second century of ownership by holding fast to the values he inherited from his grandfather and father and responding to consumers and other stakeholders.

As a result, Perdue Farms has become the first major company to move away from all routine antibiotic use, the number one producer of USDA certified chicken and a leader in improving animal care.

The Family Story Continues

Headshot photo of Chris Oliviero

Chris Oliviero

Headshot photo of Chris Perdue

Chris Perdue

Headshot photo of Ryan Perdue

Ryan Perdue

Headshot photo of Rick Lloyd

Rick Lloyd

Headshot photo of Ben Hildebrand

Ben Hildebrand

In addition to Chairman Jim Perdue, five members of the next generation of Perdues are currently working in the company.

Chris Oliviero is a vice president and general manager for one of Perdue Foods’ premium brands Niman Ranch. He joined Perdue in 2007, and spent time in plant management positions before moving into sales serving as Vice President of supermarket deli and retail business management. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Middlebury College and earned his master’s degree in business administration from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Chris Perdue is Vice President of E-Commerce for Perdue Foods. He joined the company in 2013 in the Operations Management Trainee Program as a shift leader at the Salisbury, Md., harvest plant before moving to Perdue AgriBusiness as a director. He was named Director of E-commerce in 2019. He holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from Wake Forest University and attended the Institute of Advanced Advertising Studies program.

Ryan Perdue is Vice President and General Manager for all of Perdue Farms’ Pet Treat and Pasture Chicken business. He founded the pet division of Perdue, and leads the strategic development of our efforts to raise an increasing number of chickens on pasture. He joined the company in 2010 as a strategy consultant and was later named director of business development. He earned his bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from Dartmouth College.

Rick Lloyd is Director - Strategic Sales, Growth, and Innovation for Perdue AgriBusiness. He joined Perdue in April 2020 after years of building and growing high-performing sales teams with a number of Fortune 500 companies. Rick holds a bachelor of science degree from Bridgewater College.

Ben Hildebrand is Director of Environmental Sustainability. He joined Perdue Farms in April 2024 after two decades of project management experience, developing programs and policies, and implementing strategic plans for academic institutions. Ben holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Kenyon College and a leadership certificate from Harvard University.

Our History

Frank Perdue started helping out as soon as he was old enough to hold an egg in two hands.

The 1920s

Arthur Perdue founded his poultry company in 1920, the same year his wife, Pearl, gave birth to their son, Franklin Parsons Perdue. As soon as he could hold an egg in his hands, Frank started helping with the family business.

In 1925, the Perdues started selling baby chicks to other farmers instead of selling table eggs. By investing in the best available breeding stock, Arthur soon gained a reputation for producing quality chicks. Even when the stock market crashed, Perdue’s business stayed strong through hard work, frugality and a commitment to quality.

Frank grew up on the farm—and in the family business.

The 1930s

The Perdues’ poultry business continued to grow as local farmers trusted Arthur as a man of integrity.

In 1939, Frank left behind an unpromising collegiate baseball career to join his father’s business as only the second paid associate.

The switch to meat-type birds set the stage for future growth.

The 1940s

A poultry disease sweeping through the region destroyed most of the company’s flocks and threatened the family business. In response, Arthur Perdue sold layer chicks instead of meat bird chicks, aligning with the emerging broiler industry and setting the stage for further growth.

Frank designed the company’s first logo, a chick under a magnifying glass.

The 1950s

Frank took over leadership of the business, which became incorporated as A.W. Perdue & Son. The Perdues began supplying chickens for processing by partnering with local farmers to raise birds, which they sold at live auctions.

Frank and Arthur look over plans for the company’s first soybean processing plant.

The 1960s

The company gained traction in the grain and oilseed business as Frank recognized the increasing importance of feed ingredients, investing in grain receiving and soybean processing. Frank understood that processing chicken would be part of the future, and Perdue opened its first processing plant in 1968.

Rather than following the lead of others, Frank marketed a measurably superior product and put his family name on it. He advertised in the competitive New York City broiler market to introduce the PERDUE® brand, forever changing the poultry industry—and making marketing history.

The TV commercials introduced consumers to PERDUE® chicken.

The 1970s

The company’s first TV commercial aired in the early ’70s and introduced Frank Perdue, the first company leader to successfully serve as an advertising spokesman in a major branding campaign. The company’s now-famous slogan, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken®,” helped make PERDUE® a household name.

Frank’s quest to sell a better PERDUE® chicken led to the introduction of the PERDUE® OVEN STUFFER® Roaster in 1974. Perdue became the only company with its own proprietary breed, which had measurably more breast meat than other commercial breeds.

Frank introduced the first PERDUE® fully cooked products in the 1980s.

The 1980s

Perdue added turkey to its poultry portfolio, introduced its first fully cooked products with the PERDUE® DONE IT® line and branched out into foodservice.

Frank’s son, Jim, who had grown up spending summers with the company, returned as a management trainee and worked his way up the ranks, learning all parts of the business along the way.

Frank turned over the reins of the company to his son in 1991, making Jim the third generation Perdue to lead the company.

The 1990s

Jim Perdue was named chairman in 1991, becoming a third-generation company leader, and took over the role of advertising spokesman in 1994.

Perdue achieved significant production and sales growth throughout the decade. The introduction of PERDUE® SHORT CUTS® carved chicken breast created an entirely new category of meal ingredients, while fully cooked breaded products met rising consumer demand for added convenience.

A refreshed logo includes the Perdue family farmhouse, where the company started.

From 2000–2005

Streamlined production, investments in state-of-the-art equipment and a brand-new Innovation Center positioned the company well in the new century. New, inventive products included the PERDUE® OVEN STUFFER® Roaster and fully cooked frozen products. Perdue became a key supplier in the foodservice industry with an increased emphasis on meeting operators’ needs.

In 2005, the company said farewell to Frank Perdue, honoring his legacy by recommitting to quality, service and reliability. To mark the company’s 85th anniversary, a new logo featuring the original Perdue family farmhouse celebrated “a family commitment to quality since 1920.®”

From 2006–2010

Perdue launched the HARVESTLAND® brand, featuring chicken raised with no antibiotics ever, and became the first poultry company to provide consumers the assurance of USDA Process Verified Programs. PERDUE® PERFECT PORTIONS® individually packaged sliced chicken breast revolutionized the fresh chicken category with well-sized portions for easy cooking.

Perdue AgriBusiness established itself as a global player by becoming an independent company and continuing to grow outside sales, including exports.

Perdue Farms formed an Environmental Steering Committee to guide the company’s environmental sustainability efforts.

From 2011–2014

Perdue purchased Coleman Natural Foods and became the leading producer of organic chicken and no-antibiotics-ever chicken, turkey and pork. The new PERDUE® SIMPLY SMART® line offered reduced sodium and fat levels and simple ingredients. Perdue Foods set a new standard for responsible use of antibiotics, reducing the use of human antibiotics by 95% across the company.

Perdue AgriBusiness expanded its agricultural services, supporting farmers with seeds, organic fertilizers, agronomy services, risk management, and expanding opportunities for specialty seeds and cover crops.

Perdue Farms introduced its corporate responsibility platform, “We believe in responsible food and agriculture.®”

In 2015

Continuing to focus on premium proteins and trusted brands, Perdue Farms acquired Natural Food Holdings, including the NIMAN RANCH® brand, the PRAIRIE GROVE® brand and pork processing operations. This enabled Perdue Foods to grow pork through brands with high standards for animal welfare and sustainable agricultural practices.

Perdue expanded organic chicken production and committed to raising as many animals as possible without antibiotics, amplifying the scope of its no-antibiotics-ever products. New advertising promoted the transparency of the no-antibiotics-ever claim as Perdue called for clarity in antibiotics use claims.

Perdue AgriBusiness increased organic production of crops and purchased the U.S. business of Technology Crops International, furthering its commitment to giving farmers opportunities to diversify through specialty oil seeds and crops.

In 2016

Groundbreaking Commitments to Animal Care transformed the company’s approach to raising chickens, moving from the industry norm of basic needs to the Five Freedoms, a globally accepted welfare standard encouraging normal behaviors.

Perdue moved completely away from antibiotics, becoming the first major poultry company to stop the routine use of human antibiotics and all use of animal antibiotics. On average, 95% of Perdue’s chickens and two-thirds of its turkeys are raised without ever receiving an antibiotic.

Perdue AgriBusiness opened a trading office in Brazil.

Perdue took another major step in protecting the Chesapeake Bay, expanding a $60 million investment in nutrient recycling on Delmarva with the addition of a $12.5 million capital investment in a composting operation at Perdue AgriRecycle. Perdue AgriRecycle, which celebrated its 15th anniversary, already handled more than two billion pounds of poultry.


The PERDUE® brand continued to make advertising history by introducing a fourth-generation of family advertising spokespersons in what were also the first national TV ads to promote USDA certified organic chicken. Chris and Ryan Perdue, part of the fourth generation of Perdues working in the family business, joined their father, Chairman and long-time advertising spokesperson Jim Perdue, in two commercials featuring PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® organic chicken. 

Perdue’s Commitments to Animal Care 2017 continued the company’s leadership in continuous improvement in poultry care, based on the Five Freedoms. Perdue’s 2017 Animal Care Summit brought together diverse stakeholders, including poultry care experts, animal welfare advocacy groups, customers and farmers to review Perdue’s progress and discuss future advancements.

The Perdue family farmhouse celebrated its 100th anniversary.

In 2018

In 2018, we marked the 50th anniversary of the PERDUE® brand and brought the party home with a celebration at our Salisbury, Md., plant where it all started.

New packaging brought a fresh look to our PERDUE® fresh chicken and PERDUE® SIMPLY SMART® Organics combined fully cooked convenience and great taste.

We announced goals for significant reductions in greenhouse gases, water use and solid waste.

We debuted in the international Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare among the top 15% of more than 100 global food companies, while moving all our Coleman Natural pork production to crate-free.

In 2019

Forbes named Perdue Farms one of the “Best Employers for Diversity."

We launched first-of-its kind nationally distributed PERDUE® CHICKEN PLUS™ nuggets, tenders and patties blended with vegetables, giving consumers options to help fill the vegetable void without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

Perdue continued its company leadership in continuous improvement in poultry care with its 2018 Commitments to Animal Care. Our fourth annual Animal Care Summit brought together animal care thought leaders, animal advocacy groups, leading retail and foodservice customers and farmers to review Perdue’s advancements and path forward in animal care.

In 2020...

In 2020, our company will turn 100 years old. As we look forward to celebrating our Centennial – and to the start of our second century – we invite you to explore the history of our family-owned company.

In 2021

The PERDUE® brand launched new TV commercials highlighting no animal byproducts.

Perdue Farms earned national gold recognition from the American Heart Association’s Workplace Health Achievement Index for taking significant steps to build a culture of workplace health.

Perdue AgriBusiness launched FlockLeader®, its first branded line of consumer products designed to keep backyard chickens healthy.

Moving into our Next Century

As we look forward to our second century, our path forward is about getting better, not just bigger. We’ll continue on our ongoing journey to become “the most-trusted name in food and agricultural products.”

Franklin P. Perdue Museum & Archives Virtual Tour

Take a walk through our family legacy and the Perdue story with a virtual tour.
Stay awhile and get-to-know us better – or feel free to come back to learn more.

For the best tour experience, click on the flashing arrows on the bottom left to start your experience. These arrows are placed throughout the room to help move you along the storyline. Click on any of the highlighted panels to get started and to get a closer look at that area.