This month we spotlight a new Shining Light Company — Pilgrim’s Pride (Symbol: PPC). Headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, Pilgrim’s Pride is one of the largest chicken producers in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Brazilian beef company JBS Holdings purchased a majority stake in 2009. This multi-national company employs around 38,000 people, bringing in sales of about $8.1 billion in 2012. Pilgrim’s Pride has the capacity to process about 36 million chickens per week which results in about 9.5 billion pounds of poultry annually. Pilgrim’s Pride is mostly sold and distributed to retail outlets and foodservice restaurants.
Pilgrim’s Pride traces its roots back to 1946 in Pittsburg, Texas to Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, the namesake of the company, and his older brother, Aubrey. They grew the fledgling company by handing out free chicks along with purchased bags of feed sold to customers. Bo Pilgrim would often dress in pilgrim garb, complete with a pet chicken named “Henrietta,” to perform in advertisements for the company.
This company is well-respected in the restaurant industry as evidenced by their being named “supplier of the year” by Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1997. They are also a large poultry provider to Walmart, Publix, and Wendy’s. Pilgrim’s became the exclusive rotisserie chicken supplier to Costco in 2012, where they agreed to supply 50 million 3-pound chickens. Pilgrim’s Pride has clearly established a standard of excellence in the industry, a necessary albeit sometimes underemphasized aspect of a Shining Light Company. Excellence is, after all, a strong biblical value.
After Bo Pilgrim’s death in 2017, those who knew him well recalled his faith in Jesus as the most foundational mark of his character. Speaking at a fundraiser event in Texas in 2004, Pilgrim said, “I didn’t come here to sell chicken. I came here to sell Jesus. Because when I am in heaven, God is not going to ask how many chickens I grew, but what I did for Him.” It is clear that Pilgrim viewed his life as a testament to the glory and grace of God. Not only was Bo faithful to Jesus personally, but this belief affected the manner in which he ran Pilgrim’s Pride. His commitment to prayer left an impact on many. A local attorney and friend of Pilgrim noted, “I watched him through the good times and the hard times, and what I really remember is how much he believed in the power of prayer.”
Part of Pilgrim stewarding his business well included building a prayer park in the 1990s at the center of Pittsburg, Texas, the town in which he lived. This park, featuring a reflection pool, a 75-foot-tall Prayer Tower and high walls of stained glass depicting the life stages of Jesus Christ. Pilgrim Park has become a popular destination for weddings, bridal photos, prom pictures, and family reunions. Pilgrim himself was known to visit the park to pray and reflect upon God on a regular basis until his death.
Not only did Bo Pilgrim build a prayer park, but he also contributed financially to the Pilgrim Plaza, a one-acre place for community gatherings. The executive director of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce credited Pilgrim’s generosity for putting the small town on the map.
It is clear that Bo Pilgrim’s stewardship and philanthropy laid the foundation for Pilgrim’s Pride continued commitment to giving back to their community, resulting from an outflow of faith in Jesus Christ. For more information on Bo Pilgrim’s legacy and commitment to the gospel, click the link below: https://tylerpaper.com/news/local/lonnie-bo-pilgrim-of-pilgrim-s-pride-dead-at/article_339768fd-5fcd-5bc3-a1f7-12fe2d0bc43e.html
Most companies state a list of core values that help to shape their company’s culture. Pilgrim’s focuses on seven that provide a foundation upon which to execute excellence in their business. Words such as Determination, Simplicity, Availability, and Humility characterize the atmosphere Pilgrim’s is attempting to create within their facilities all around. While these values are important stated, they are even more impressive when applied to the day-to-day operation of the business. Pilgrim’s has shown a deep commitment to not only valuing the customer, but also caring about their employees on a personal level.
When evaluating a company’s execution of its stated values, it is important to examine employee care, opportunity, and development. Pilgrim’s Pride has received rave reviews from both current and former employees with regards to their culture and management. One employee remarked that Pilgrim’s Pride has “great benefits, great pay, and a great work environment.” Another noted that the “atmosphere was great, and the teamwork was phenomenal.”
Philanthropy & Service
One of the most impactful ways a business can be a shining light in a secular world is through giving back to their community and those in need. Pilgrim’s Pride has established a standard of community service that was recently recognized by a news station in Texas.
When a Pilgrim’s Pride location in Nacogdoches, Texas, was forced to close due to a construction project, employees decided to take the week and devote it to helping other businesses in the community. Partnering with city officials, more than 100 employees pressure-washed structures, cleaned windows, and completed painting projects at various local businesses. Employees remarked that it made them feel good to assist the community and gave them a greater appreciation for the teamwork that is cultivated at Pilgrim’s Pride. In that week alone, the company completed an astounding 2,800 hours of community service. This is a fantastic example of company culture being implemented and carried out in a way that shows a true commitment to service and philanthropy.
For more information regarding this story, click the link below: http://www.ktre.com/2018/11/22/pilgrims-pride-workers-help-with-community-service-projects-during-nacogdoches-plant-closure/.
Shining Light Companies exist to serve and often excel at building exemplary businesses that feel more like communities and families. They excel in their respective field, develop distinct and intentional values that shape their actions and decisions, they value the dignity and well-being of their employees, and they steward generously the resources they have been provided. While this is certainly a high bar, Pilgrim’s Pride sets the standard and is raising the poultry industry to new heights. We are proud to recognize this difference-making enterprise as a Shining Light Company!
DISCLOSURE: Shining Lights companies are those companies we have identified as exemplary companies living out the Golden Rule and exhibiting the virtues of Integrity, Humility, Diligence, Caring and Courage. This is intended for general information purposes concerning only the values, corporate culture and business practices of the companies being spotlighted. It DOES NOT incorporate any analysis of the companies’ investment merit based on intrinsic value, fundamental analysis, etc. This must not be construed as investment advice or a buy/sell recommendation. These companies may or may not be included in our LightPoint Portfolios at any given time.