In 1954, Ford originally joined the association staff at its headquarters in Richmond, Va. He had previously served as assistant commissioner of agriculture in Kentucky. In 1957, he was named executive secretary of the association before leaving it to join Mar-Jac Poultry Company in 1961.
Ford was eventually asked by the Southeastern board of directors to return as executive secretary. He guided the association to prominence as one of the most effective and influential trade associations, not only in the poultry industry, but throughout the U.S. He grew the organization’s signature event, the International Poultry Expo, still held annually in Atlanta, Ga., to become the largest, preeminent poultry industry convention and trade show in the world.
Ford retired in 1992. The association’s foundation is named after him, along with the organization’s highest recognition, the Harold E. Ford Lifetime Achievement Award. He also was inducted into the Poultry Industry Hall of Fame.
Ford is survived by three daughters, Karen, Debbie, and Anita, along with grandchildren and great grandchildren. His funeral will be held on December 17, at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Ga.