Work Hard, Work Smart and Work to Be the Best


After 42 years in the poultry industry and over 24 years of working at Sanderson Farms, Randy Pettus has closed the last chapter in his lengthy and accomplished career. At the time Pettus began his career with the company, only four production divisions supplied a weekly processing capacity of under four million birds weekly. Today, the company has 11 production divisions and a weekly processing capacity of over 13 million birds per week.

Pettus played a role in helping start all seven of those new production divisions that were key to executing the company’s prudent growth strategy and tripling production capacity in just a 25-year span. During that time frame, not only was Sanderson Farms growing, but so was Pettus’ career.

A 1978 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, the East Texas native immediately put his degree in animal science to work by joining a primary poultry breeder company, one of two of which he would work for before joining Sanderson Farms in 1996. Throughout his tenure with the company, Pettus has served as breeder-hatchery manager, broiler manager, division manager, corporate production manager and director of production, a position he would hold for over 13 years of his career.

What attracted Pettus to Sanderson Farms was the company’s commitment to it’s culture including values that resonated with his own upbringing such as the values of hard work and honesty. “Sanderson Farms truly is ‘special,’ as our vision states,” said Pettus. “That’s not just a word, it’s a culture and a feeling. While I didn’t start my career at Sanderson Farms, I got here as quickly as I could because I saw a lot of really good, smart and hardworking people here. I saw a lot of opportunity to grow with the company, and I wanted to be a part of that growth and culture.”

All of this success would not be possible without the help of a supportive family, and Pettus is lucky to have found that in his wife of over 41 years, Cindy, and his son, Denton, who also elected to carry on the Pettus family legacy in the poultry industry. After graduating from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, Denton joined Sanderson Farms nearly six years ago and currently serves as the broiler manager at the company’s production division in Palestine, Texas.

“The chicken business has been good to all of us,” said Pettus. “I learned very quickly that average performance was not accepted at Sanderson Farms. You have to want to be the best and that was always a driving factor for me.”

After a career like Pettus’ career, it’s clear that his philosophy of being the best was a self-fulfilling prophecy. But before he rides off into the East Texas sunset bound for retirement, he does have a few words of advice for those just beginning their careers at Sanderson Farms.

“Work hard and work smart,” said Pettus. “There is no substitute for hard work. Working smart helps everything, but you still have to work hard and strive for excellence in everything that you do. Lastly, take advantage of the opportunities that come along, and always listen and learn from the experienced people around you.”




Continuing the Call

Pictured are Denton Pettus, broiler manager for Palestine Production; Sandy Bui, Sanderson Farms broiler grower in Palestine; and Randy Pettus, former corporate production manager. After growing chickens for Sanderson Farms for over 18 years, Sandy recalls having Randy as her broiler manager when she first began growing chickens for the company’s Brazos Production division, and now Denton is her broiler manager at the Palestine Production division.