Our story starts around the turn of the century. Not the one that started with the year 2000, but a hundred years before that. Here are some of the highlights in the life of House of Raeford Farms and the family behind it—a family that goes back several generations and already has another generation or two waiting in the wings.

  • 1901

    Nash Johnson, the youngest of 15 farm family children, was born into a family of entrepreneurs, many of whom raised and sold tobacco and strawberries. Nash went on to marry—no surprise—a woman with similar drive: Mary Sue Cowan.

  • 1925

    In order to make ends meet during the Depression, Mary Sue Johnson began raising turkeys in her backyard in Rose Hill, NC; her husband Nash soon joined her.

  • 1936

    As Nash and Mary Sue’s family grew, so did their turkey business. In the first step toward vertical integration (though it wasn’t called that then), Nash built a hatchery in Rose Hill.

  • Late 1930s and Early 1940s

    Two sons, Marvin and Bizzell Johnson, exhibited their entrepreneurial spirit early by selling their parents’ homegrown turkeys on the streets of Rose Hill, operating as Johnson Brothers.

  • 1942

    With WWII well underway, Marvin completed his education at Rose Hill High School. He joined the Merchant Marines in 1944, serving during the war in the Pacific Theater and on board a ship when the atomic bomb was dropped.

  • 1946

    Upon his return to Rose Hill, Marvin joined Bizzell in an expansion of the poultry venture when the two went to the local Sears store and bought an incubator and some turkey eggs. They reinvested their profits from raising and selling the birds into the business.

  • Late 1940s

    Once the war ended, the Johnson family turned their efforts into a true commercial undertaking and pioneered the poultry industry in the eastern part of North Carolina.

  • 1949

    Family patriarch and matriarch, Marvin and Grace Johnson, and two little attendants, on their wedding day.

  • 1955

    The company that later became House of Raeford Farms was founded, born from a partnership of three growers and the town of Rose Hill in an effort to bring jobs to local citizens. Nash Johnson and sons, Marvin and Bizzell, built their first feed mill.

  • 1959

    The family business expanded into chicken production with construction of a chicken hatchery and a grow-out operation.

  • 1968

    The company proudly participates annually in many local events. Bob Johnson, now our CEO, and his brother, Ed Johnson, and their cousins can be seen at the Wallace, NC Christmas parade in the back of the truck.

  • 1969

    The Johnson family purchased the Raeford, NC turkey plant to which they had been selling turkeys and became the first in the industry to introduce fully cooked turkeys and 4-7 lb. deli turkey breasts to consumers. Production continued to increase to meet rising demand for the company’s poultry.

  • 1974

    All divisions and sectors of the company were consolidated as House of Raeford Farms, Inc. under Marvin Johnson’s sole leadership. House of Raeford was a name chosen through a contest of submissions by employees and local citizens.

  • 1975

    On April 1, 1975, the corporation was registered with the state of North Carolina.

  • 1984

    The first of many large expenditures on wastewater equipment was made at the Rose Hill plant in order to help protect the environment.

  • 1988

    House of Raeford’s first breaded product plant opened in Hemingway, South Carolina.

  • 1990

    The 27th annual North Carolina Poultry Jubilee was held in the town square of Rose Hill. Organizers describe the festival as, “a celebration of an industry, a people, and a way of life that helps keep North Carolina economically strong and a wonderful place to live, work, and play.” Then, as now, House of Raeford supported the festival. In fact, CEO Bob Johnson and manager Dave Wells are the ones wearing the chicken and turkey suits.

  • 1991

    A new feed mill, the largest in the country, was built and named Big Ed in remembrance of Marvin and Grace’s oldest son, Ed Johnson.

  • 1992

    House of Raeford’s specialty products plant opened in Athens, Michigan.

  • 1994

    Now all grown up and working in live production, Bob Johnson’s youngest son, Nash Julian, was no stranger to the operation even back then.

  • 1996

    Many proud family members shared in the excitement and satisfaction of one of the company’s numerous investments in the community.

  • 1996

    Marvin Johnson, surrounded by members of the family, was inducted into the NC Poultry Hall of Fame.

  • 1997

    Bob Johnson, Marvin’s son, became CEO of House of Raeford after working his way up through the company with jobs in the processing plants and on the farms. In fact, he once owned several poultry farms himself.

  • 1998

    The purchase of Columbia Farms, Inc. and Columbia Farms of Georgia, Inc. added two chicken processing plants, two feed mills, and two live grow-out operations in the South Carolina/Georgia area.

  • 2000

    The company expanded again with the acquisition of a chicken plant, feed mill, and live grow-out area in Arcadia, Louisiana.

  • 2003

    Company ownership was formalized with Bob Johnson, his sister Diane Beasley, and their children as sole owners.

  • 2003

    Marvin Johnson, former CEO, was presented with a Lifetime Award from the NC Council of Boy Scouts.

  • 2005

    House of Raeford acquired the Butterball turkey processing facility in Wallace, NC and converted it into a state-of-the-art chicken processing plant.

  • 2013

    In order to concentrate on its core competency—vertically integrated chicken production—House of Raeford exited the turkey business.

  • 2014

    House of Raeford purchased a chicken processing plant in Mocksville, NC and acquired Atlanta-based Filet of Chicken.

  • Present

    Four of our five generations of Johnsons. Left to right: Bob Johnson, Marvin Johnson, Nash Julian Johnson, Cowan Johnson, and little Robert Johnson.

Back To Top