Mikell R. Fries, 41, has been named president of Claxton Poultry Farms, effective March 1.
He is the grandson of company founder Norman W. Fries, and most recently served as executive vice president of sales and marketing for the company.
Jerry Lane, who has been with the firm since 1985 and has served as its president for the past 19 years, will remain actively involved in day-to-day operations as he takes on his new role as senior adviser to both the president and Doris S. Fries, the company’s CEO and chairperson of the board of directors. Lane, a veteran of 38 years in the Georgia Poultry industry and most recently the 2014-2015 chairman of the National Chicken Council, will also continue as a member of the board of directors.
“This succession plan has been in the works for several years,” said Doris S. Fries, who along with her late husband founded Norman W. Fries Inc. in 1958, doing business as Claxton Poultry Farms. “For the past 27 years Mikell has worked in every area of the company’s operations, ultimately being mentored by Jerry over the last six years to assume the presidency. It has been very gratifying to watch Mikell grow into his new position, and I am pleased about what that means for the company’s future. He is loved as a grandson and deeply respected as an effective and well-seasoned executive.”
According to outgoing President Jerry Lane, Fries is well qualified for the head operational role. “Mikell’s work ethic, technical abilities, day-to-day operational management skills and deep understanding of our industry make this change a particularly smooth one. For the past several years we have been working closely together in preparation for a day that has been long planned. He is well trained, already highly experienced and a top executive who is a pleasure to work with and more than ready for the position,” said Mr. Lane.
Fries has been married 14 years to Wendy Franklin Fries of Metter, Georgia, and they have two sons, Jackson, 11 and Jonathan, 7.
Growing up in the area, he attended Statesboro High School and graduated in 1997 from Georgia Southern University with a degree in Business Management. He started building wooden pallets and cutting hay for Claxton Poultry when he was 14 years old, working after school and during his summer breaks.
Before assuming the company’s head operational role he spent the last ten years in senior positions overseeing sales and marketing.
Fries currently serves on the boards of directors of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the Georgia Poultry Federation and Norman W. Fries, Inc.
Claxton Poultry is today one of the largest family-owned egg-to-market poultry producers in the nation and is a global food supplier ranked in the top 100 of all poultry operations worldwide. The scope of its operations include more than 1,800 employees working throughout the main processing plant and its various supporting entities, processing more than 2.1 million birds a week, or more than 435 million pounds of poultry produced a year. In the process more than 200 varieties of fresh and frozen products are made available to millions of consumers; and a fleet of more than 150 tractor-trailers, other vehicles and drivers transport a globally recognized, highly respected brand to regional markets around the world.
“I am very honored,“ Fries said. “These are big shoes to fill that come with many expectations and I look forward to the challenges and responsibilities that go with the job. My grandfather and grandmother taught me more than I can say, as did Jerry Lane whose considerable skills helped groom me for this role. I’m taking over the presidency of a thriving company with a great management team in place and outstanding prospects for continued growth in the years ahead.”
“(I) know my grandmother is very proud but I wish my grandfather, Norman W. Fries and father, Norman W. Fries, Jr., could have been here to see this day. Going forward I see business as usual, continuing to grow in a measured, responsible way, serving our customers, our employees, our growers and our community.”