Historical society honors Fieldale, Georgia poultry industry

Georgia Historical Society dedicates new historical marker recognizing Fieldale Farms and Georgia’s greater poultry industry.

From left, Fieldale Farms CEO Gus Arrendale, Fieldale Farms COO John Wright, Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon, Fieldale Farms Board Member Cyndae Arrendale, GHS President and CEO Dr. W. Todd Groce, Fieldale Farms President Tom Hensley, and Fieldale Farms Board Member John Arrendale.
From left, Fieldale Farms CEO Gus Arrendale, Fieldale Farms COO John Wright, Gainesville Mayor Sam Couvillon, Fieldale Farms Board Member Cyndae Arrendale, GHS President and CEO Dr. W. Todd Groce, Fieldale Farms President Tom Hensley, and Fieldale Farms Board Member John Arrendale.
Courtesy Georgia Historical Society

The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) unveiled a new historical marker as part of the Business History Initiative in partnership with Fieldale Farms, recognizing the impact of the poultry industry in Georgia. Fieldale Farms helped establish poultry as one of Georgia’s most important industries in the second half of the 20th century.

“We are excited to recognize Fieldale Farms and to share the company’s story of success and excellence with the people of Georgia,” said GHS President and CEO Dr. W. Todd Groce. “Fieldale is an important part of our state’s history and economy. It is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished with extraordinary leadership, careful succession planning, a great product, and first-rate customer service. It is truly the iconic representative in the poultry industry.”

Each year GHS selects iconic companies and institutions throughout the state to be honored through its Business History Initiative. Those selected are leaders and pioneers in their respective fields that have made significant contributions to the state of Georgia. By choosing these companies and institutions, GHS seeks to teach Georgia students, citizens, and tourists alike about the pivotal role these organizations have played in the economic, cultural, and social development of Georgia and the United States.

"Receiving a historical marker is like holding a piece of time, a tangible reminder that our stories matter and our past shapes our future,” said Fieldale Farms President Tom Hensley. “This is a great honor to our founding families and the exceptional community we are proud to call home."

A historical marker in Gainesville, Georgia, pays tribute to Fieldale Farms and the Georgia poultry industry.A historical marker in Gainesville, Georgia, pays tribute to Fieldale Farms and the Georgia poultry industry.Courtesy Georgia Historial Society.

Fieldale Farms has emerged from a local, homegrown business to be one of the largest privately held and independent poultry producers in the world. Before World War II, there was not a large consumer demand for poultry; however, shortly after the U.S. entered World War II, the government began to ration red meat, causing an increased demand for poultry. In 1972, Joe Hatfield and brothers Lee and Tom Arrendale purchased the Northeast Georgia Poultry Operations of the Ralston-Purina Corporation. They named their new company Fieldale Farms, a combination of their last names.

The marker dedication took place on May 23 at Poultry Park in Gainesville, a space that pays homage to Gainesville’s involvement in the poultry industry. Speakers included Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO, Georgia Historical Society; The Honorable Sam Couvillon, Mayor, City of Gainesville; Gus Arrendale, CEO, Fieldale Farms; and Tom Hensley, President, Fieldale Farms.

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