In December 1955 Emerson Produce Company,
later to become Dudley Poultry Company, Inc., opened for
business under the ownership of Sandy Emerson of
Middlesex, NY. He built the modern chicken processing
facility using state-of-the-art assembly lines
for killing, processing and packing poultry.
The chilled poultry was sold to Rochester, NY
restaurants, grocery stores and meat markets.
At the opening ceremonies, NYS Commissioner
of Agriculture, Daniel Carey, talked about the expansion
of poultry processing in New York State and said,
“a plant such as this one can do much toward this expansion.”
Unfortunately, that expansion never materialized.
Just about the time the plant was gearing up for full
production, the price of fuel increased in the area
so that the cost to heat poultry grow houses in
upstate New York became too great. Emerson
Produce could not secure a steady local supply
of chickens to meet their demand.
Live chickens were trucked in from the southern United States
but eventually, that, too, became cost prohibitive.
The 220 employee plant only operated as a
slaughterhouse processing plant for 8 years.
1963 was the last year live poultry was processed at the plant.
That same year, 1963, Sandy Emerson sold the Emerson
Produce Company to two long time employees, Donald Dudley
and Lloyd Button. Donald Dudley’s name recognition with
customers as a salesman led to their decision to change
the name of the business and “Dudley Poultry
Company, Inc.”was incorporated in March, 1963.
The two men ran the business together for many years, selling
wholesale poultry to customers in the upstate New York area.
By 1985 the company had fallen onto hard times.
Years earlier, Donald Dudley had passed on leaving
Lloyd Button as the sole owner. Local grape growers
and business people Peter and Linda Jackson
bought Dudley Poultry. They didn’t know anything
about chickens but they did understand how to run
successful businesses and they turned the company around.
The Jackson’s improved the fleet of trucks, computerized
payroll, order entry and accounting. They made structural
improvements to the building by expanding the cooler
and enclosing the loading dock. Dudley Poultry increased
product offerings and began carrying beef, pork,
sauces and French fries…and the company grew.
Because Dudley Poultry ‘sized’ all of their whole chickens
before cutting them, customers could count on getting just
the size chicken they wanted so that when they cooked their
BBQ chickens, all chickens would be done at the same time.
The ‘sizer’ is still used today. Each chicken is hung on a hook
moved by a rotating conveyor that passes by a series of scales
set in 1/4 lb increments. The chickens drop into tubs
placed under the scales when they pass by the scale
that matches their weight. From there, the chickens
are moved to the saw room where they are
cut, boxed, weighed, labeled and then put in
the cooler awaiting delivery to the customer.
A generator was installed in 1997. Running on diesel fuel,
it produced enough electricity to run the entire plant.
A vacuum packing machine was purchased soon after
which allowed Dudley to begin packaging marinated
boneless skinless chicken breast under its own name
in sealed vacuum packed 2.5 lb. bags.
Peter and Linda sold the business to their daughter,
Teresa Jackson on September 1, 2001. Under Teresa’s
ownership, Dudley continued to add products and
update equipment and the plant.
The Finger Lakes Gourmet brand was added in 2004.
Retail bags of marinated chicken began being packaged
under this brand. Other products have been added
since like marinated drums and thighs and marinated Spiedies.
While the core business remained chicken, Dudley
continued to expand their line, adding over 200
products in 2008. These products included eggs, salads,
canned goods, charcoal, cups, plates, pizza supplies
and a more extensive line of beef and pork.
In 2013 we celebrated 50 years in business. 50 years
employing local people in our rural community.
50 years of being family owned and locally operated.
We are successful in part because of our motto:
“Dudley Poultry…where it’s not the chicken or
the egg. The customer always comes first!”
We began construction on our uniquely renovated
country store space…a small space full of
big service and big bargains! All the same great
products we’d been offering the public for years
only on Saturday mornings on the shipping dock,
now open 6 days a week and located at the front
of the plant in a fresh, clean, updated space.
Golbon is a food-service buying group that provides independent food service distributor members, like Dudley Poultry, with innovative products, services and support to help them build their businesses in this fast-paced, volatile industry of razor-thin margins. Dudley is excited to be a member of Golbon buying group!
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