OAKWOOD, Ga. — Wayne Farms LLC has announced executive succession plans for the company, effective April 1.
After 21 years of leadership as chief executive officer, Elton Maddox will assume the role of executive chairman and will continue to serve as chairman of the Wayne Farms board of managers.
Current chief operating officer, J. Clinton Rivers, will become CEO effective April 1. This transition is part of a planned succession that began with River’s promotion to chief operating officer in April 2014, the company noted.
Maddox has more than 42 years of distinguished service with Wayne Farms since joining the company as a complex engineer in April 1974. His record of guiding the company’s business strategy has allowed Wayne Farms to perform in the top 25 percent of the industry, the company said, adding that during his tenure, Maddox built an executive management team to lead a corporate culture that focused on integrity, profitability and continuous improvement in safety, quality and production.
“I am excited to work with Wayne Farms in another great role that will give me the opportunity to take us to the next level in our industry while still being able to help Clint grow the company,” Maddox said.
He went on to reflect on his experiences with Wayne Farms. “My time with Wayne Farms has been so rewarding —from both a professional and personal vantage. I am blessed to work with some of the best people in this business, and I’ve watched our business and our people grow to make us an industry leader year after year,” Maddox said.
Maddox and company officials noted the timing of Rivers to CEO as a strategic business decision, given his long years of expertise in the business and his superior performance with Wayne Farms.
In October 2012, Rivers joined Wayne Farms as vice president and general manager of the Fresh Business Unit. During the last four years, he led the acquisition of Wayne Farms’ Dothan facility from Perdue Farms; subsequently, he oversaw a major expansion of that facility which allowed the company to expand its small bird program.
Rivers also led the development of Wayne Farms’ line of chicken that never is administered antibiotics and managed the construction of the company’s new South Alabama feed mill, the largest new feed mill in the industry. In addition, Mr. Rivers has been the driving force behind Wayne Farms’ ongoing continuous improvement process focus, maintaining the company’s position in the top 25 percent, the company noted.
Rivers acknowledged his new role and the challenges before him.
“Our continuously improving operational approach to production and quality is going to be our focus,” Rivers said. “We’re positioned well in the industry, we have outstanding talent, and our business is solid and growing — that is a great time to implement this transition strategy and I am looking forward to being part of our success going forward.”
Rivers has 36 years of poultry industry experience serving in operational and leadership roles in multiple companies. He spent 21 years with Pilgrim’s Pride becoming chief operating officer in 2004 and CEO for Pilgrim’s Pride in March 2008. Prior to joining Wayne Farms in 2012, Rivers served as president of Foodservice and Supply Chain for Perdue, in Salisbury, Md.
As executive chairman, Maddox will devote his time to supporting Rivers in the management transition, strategy development, and engaging more closely with key customers. This will allow Rivers to focus on day-to-day management of the company, Wayne Farms said.
Reporting to Rivers will be the chief financial officer and treasurer, chief human resources officer, vice president and general manager of the Prepared Foods Business Unit, vice president of Quality Assurance and Food Safety, and vice president, general counsel and secretary.
As part of the leadership transition, a search is currently underway for a vice president and general manager of the Fresh Business Unit who will also report to Rivers.
More information can be obtained at www.waynefarms.com.