Wayne Farms Chief Operating Officer J. Clinton Rivers has been selected to become the company’s next chief executive officer. He will succeed Elton Maddox, who has been Wayne Farms’ CEO for the past 21 years.

The appointments will be effective April 1.

As Rivers assumes the CEO role, Maddox will remain with Wayne Farms, assuming the role of Executive Chairman and continuing to serve as Chairman of the Wayne Farms Board of Managers.  According to a press release from Wayne Farms, the transition is part of a planned succession that began with River’s promotion to COO in April 2014.

Elton Maddox successfully guided Wayne Farms

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 successfully guiding the company’s business strategy has allowed Wayne Farms to perform in the top 25 percent of the industry. During his tenure, Maddox successfully built an executive management team to lead a corporate culture that focused on integrity, profitability and continuous improvement in safety, quality and production.

Elton Maddox | Wayne Farms

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.  Reporting to Rivers in his role as CEO will be the chief financialofficer & treasurer, chief human resources officer, vice president & general manager of the prepared foods business unit, vice president of quality assurance & foodsafety, and vice president, general counsel & secretary. 

“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,” said Maddox.  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.”


Clinton Rivers an accomplished leader in poultry industry

In October 2012, Rivers joined Wayne Farms as vice president and general manager of the fresh business unit.  Over 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, Rivers is credited for being the driving force behind Wayne Farms’ ongoing continuous improvement process focus, maintaining the company’s position in the top 25 percent.

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 chiefoperating officer in 2004 and chief executive officer for Pilgrim’s Pride in March 2008.  Prior to joining Wayne Farms in 2012, Rivers served as president, foodservice and supply chain for Perdue, in Salisbury, Maryland.

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,” said Rivers. “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.”

As part of the leadership transition, a search is currently underway for a vice president & general manager of the fresh business unit who will also report to Rivers.