Perdue plans for future

Published 9:19 am Thursday, April 29, 2010

LEWISTON WOODVILLE – Perdue is moving forward, changing with the times and continuing to provide impact in the Bertie County community.

That message was delivered to leaders throughout the Roanoke-Chowan region during the business’s Community Relations Luncheon last week.

During a presentation to leaders that included civic, government and the business community, Lewiston Complex Human Resources Manager Willie McKoy talked about the investment the company has made in the Lewiston plant and the impact that investment has had on the community.

“Perdue will celebrate its 90th year in 2010,” McKoy began before giving the background of the poultry producer and how it began on a family farm almost a century ago.

McKoy said the economic conditions had affected Perdue, as it had many in their industry. In fact, he said, the company actually experienced an eight-cent loss per pound in 2008, which was roughly $2 million per week. While other companies did lose plants, however, Perdue didn’t shut down any of its facilities.

“We want to get back to sustained profitability,” McKoy said.

The manager also said the future of Perdue was both exciting and challenging and that the company was developing strategies that would allow it to continue to show a profit over a long period of time.

Some of the current investments being made by the company to ensure its future include Perfect Portions, a line that is currently being produced in Lewiston among other facilities.

There will also be a product line of paws or chicken feet that will be made in Perdue plants, including the Lewiston facility, which will be marketed exclusively in China, where they are considered delicacies.

The company is also in a partnership with the warehouse superstore Cosco.

The Lewiston plant is involved in each of those initiatives and continues to be a major job provider in northeastern North Carolina. Currently there are 2,200 associates at the plant, which has a payroll of approximately $54.8 million.

There are also 320 independent farmers raising the birds who receive an approximate $26.6 million in payments, which is also included in Perdue’s total community investment.

The company is also proud of its safety record which currently featured 6.2 million hours without a loss-time accident.

Perdue has also been heavily involved in a number of charitable organizations in the region, including the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Special Olympics, the volunteer fire departments and Haitian relief efforts.

The company leaders also highlighted their environmental efforts, including a multi-million dollar upgrade to the wastewater treatment facility in Lewiston.

At the conclusion of the presentation, McKoy said the Community Leaders Luncheon was as much about getting Perdue involved in the community as about sharing information.

“We want to create partnerships with you,” he said.

The luncheon was one of a series of such events planned by Perdue Community Relations Coordinator Robert Lewis.