William Harold Prestage, 87, founder and president of Prestage Farms, died October 10, 2022.

Prestage began his career in 1960 as a salesman of animal feed products at Central Soya. In 1967, he became a business partner with Ottis Carroll in what became Carroll’s Foods in Warsaw, North Carolina. Prestage later sold his interest in Carroll’s Foods and, along with his wife Marsha, founded Prestage Farms in 1983 by purchasing the Swift turkey operations and feed mill in Harrells, North Carolina. Since then, the company has grown to 2,700 employees and has contracts with 500 farm families in seven states. Prestage Farms also produces and processes pork.

“The turkey production business they began together pioneered new and innovative production practices such as moving the birds inside to better control their environment and provide optimum growth opportunities,” reported The Sampson Independent newspaper. “Contract production, centralized acquisition of supplies, feed ingredients, genetic breeding, medications, veterinary services, transportation, and management support all worked together to complete a vertical integration package.

“Bill Prestage perfected this new way of growing turkeys and then carried these practices into pork production.”

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According to the WATTPoultry.com Top Companies database, Prestage Farms processed 152 million live pounds of turkey in 2021. Feed Strategy’s Top Companies database says Prestage produced 600,000 metric tons of feed at its five feed mills in 2021.

“While Mr. Prestage’s accomplishments were significant and his contributions to agribusiness far reaching, it was his drive, passion and great love for his family and employees that inspired us every day. He will be deeply missed, but we will continue his good work in honor of him,” said a statement on the company’s website.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, October 16, 2022, at 2 p.m. in Prestage Hall at the Sampson County Exposition Center, 414 Warsaw Road, Clinton, NC 28328. Masks are encouraged for those at risk. The family will forgo a reception in the health interest of family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Sampson Regional Medical Center Foundation “Tree of Love,” P.O. Box 260, Clinton, NC 28329, or Harrells Christian Academy FFA, P.O. Box 88, Harrells, NC 28444.