Peco Foods Poised To Unveil $165M Poultry Operation in Northeast Arkansas

by George Waldon  on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 12:00 am  

The new Randolph-Clay County operation will mark the company’s second project in Arkansas.

Peco Foods first ventured into the state in 2011 through acquisition in a deal credited with making it the eighth-largest poultry processor in the nation.

The company bought Independence County assets of Townsends Inc. of Georgetown, Del.

The $51 million bankruptcy purchase of Townsends’ Arkansas operations included a processing plant in Batesville and a feed mill in Newark.

In 2012, Peco announced an additional $13.8 million investment to expand the Independence County operations. The resulting 300 new jobs pushed its Batesville area workforce to more than 1,100.

Growth through acquisition also helped fuel Peco’s expansion into Mississippi. During the 1990s, the company made two significant buys in the Magnolia State.

Peco purchased a Sebastopol poultry processing plant and associated assets from Green Acre Farm Inc. for $27.1 million in 1995.

The company followed that up with a $10.5 million deal in 1998 with Marshall Durbin Food Corp. and Marshall Durbin Farms Inc. The transaction involved the Canton processing plant and associated assets.

Mark Hickman, president and chief executive officer of Peco Foods, represents the third generation of leadership at the family-owned enterprise.

The company traces its roots back to 1937 in Gordo, Ala., with John Herman Hickman raising and selling a few dozen chickens. Over the years, his venture developed into a feed mill and hatchery.

In 1968, Peco Foods was created from the merger of the Hickman family’s business and Harris Poultry & Egg Co. The Hickmans bought out the E.S. Harris family’s stake in 1982.



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