Like his father, Frank, Jim Perdue grew up in the family business, but didn't decide to make it his business right away. He thought at first of becoming a marine biologist. In fact, he earned his Ph.D. in fisheries. But in 1983, he accepted his dad's invitation to return to the family business, joining the company as an entry-level management trainee. After working many different management jobs in just about every area of the company, and earning his master's degree in business along the way, Jim became chairman in 1991 and also took over as advertising spokesperson.
Jim has guided the company through continued growth and change while holding fast to the values inherited from his grandfather and father.
"I'm proud of our company's heritage and proud to be carrying on our commitment to quality," said Jim. "I'm proud of everyone in the Perdue organization – our associates and our farm-family partners. Together, we're building upon our foundation of quality."
Frank Perdue began helping his father as soon as he was big enough to hold a chick in two hands. By age 10, his 4-H project – a flock of 50 layer hens – was earning him $20 a month. Despite his initial success in poultry, Frank dreamt of a career in baseball – though he admits to gathering more splinters on the bench than hits at bat.
In 1939, at the age of 19, Frank Perdue left college to join the 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.
"I owe all my success to my father – he taught me everything," said Frank. "He taught me about honesty and integrity and reliability; he taught me the importance of being a person of your word; and he taught me about quality. The tenets on which this company was built were all his, and all I did was expand on them."
In 1920, the same year his son, Frank, was born, 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 a God-fearing man known for his concern for people, his frugality, his love of reading and poetry, and a dedication to hard work. He established the values of Quality, Integrity, Trust and Teamwork upon which the company was built. Mr. Arthur was active in the business up until his death in 1977 at age 91.