The Salisbury Award, considered among the community’s most prestigious honors, will be given this year to three local institutions which just recently marked a century of business and service.
Perdue Farms, the region’s pre-eminent business entity; the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, the top advocate of the local business community; and the Rotary Club of Salisbury, the area’s most-established service club will each receive the award at a social event later this month.
Established in 1926 by Salisbury businessman G. William Phillips, the Salisbury Award is the community’s oldest civic award. It was created for the purpose of recognizing “service that has been the greatest benefit to the happiness, prosperity, intellectual advancement or moral growth of the community.”
Phillips’ contribution remained anonymous to the public until his death in 1950. Through his estate, he endowed the award with a gift of $5,000 and designated the creation of a committee, made up of community leaders, to serve as trustees and to be responsible for selecting future honorees.
Former Salisbury mayor and business leader Frank Morris, the 1991 recipient, further endowed the award; in 1993 the Board of Trustees established the Salisbury Award Fund at the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.
The award may be given to an individual or to an organization in the greater Salisbury region. It may be given for a specific achievement or for a body of work over time.
The first honoree was Fred A. Grier Jr., who in 1926 was recognized for his efforts in establishing county-wide volunteer fire companies.
The next year, Dr. George Todd was honored for his efforts in establishing the first regional hospital, now known as TidalHealth Peninsula Regional. His son, Dr. G. Nevins Todd Jr., received the award in 2000 for his leadership in the development of the Open-Heart Surgery Program at TidalHealth.
Additionally, organizations that have been recognized include Ben’s Red Swings in 2005 for a project that inspired the entire community; in 2009, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore for 25 years of outstanding service to our community; and the Greater Salisbury Committee on their 50th Anniversary in 2017.
Perdue Farms was founded in 1920 by Arthur Perdue with his wife, Pearl Perdue, who had been keeping a small flock of chickens.
The company started out selling eggs, then in 1925, Perdue built the company's first hatchery, and began selling layer chicks to farmers instead of only eggs for human consumption.
Also in 1920, Frank Perdue was born to the couple. He joined the company in 1939 at the age of 19.
The company was incorporated as A.W. Perdue & Son and Frank Perdue assumed leadership in the 1950s. The company also began contracting with local farmers to raise its birds and supplying chickens for processing as well as opening a second hatchery in North Carolina during this period.
Perdue entered the grain and oilseed business by building grain receiving and storage facilities and Maryland's first soybean processing plant.
In 1968, the company began operating its first poultry processing plant at the old Swift Meats facility in Salisbury. This move had two effects: it gave Perdue Farms full vertical integration and quality control over every step from egg and feed to market, as well as increasing profits which were being squeezed by processors. This move enabled the company to differentiate its product, rather than selling a commodity.
In 1991, Frank's son Jim Perdue was named Chairman, becoming the third generation of leaders from the Perdue family.
Today, the company sells chicken and turkey products to food retailers and food service companies in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. and exports poultry products to more than 70 foreign countries around the world. Perdue runs two soybean-processing plants that produce vegetable oils and ingredients for animal feed.
Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce
Like Perdue Farms, the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1920.
On March 4, 1920, about 80 men voted unanimously to rename the Salisbury Business Men’s Association as the Chamber of Commerce of Salisbury.
There was only one membership level. Each member -- notably, men only -- paid $50 annual dues and was entitled to one vote.
Fred P. Adkins was elected president of the Board of Directors. There was one, paid secretary, whose job description was to devote all time and attention to working for the good of Salisbury. Every member of the Chamber was expected to offer their keen interest and full cooperation to the organization since, without that commitment, nothing big nor good could be accomplished.
Over the decades, Salisbury’s Chamber has grown in size, scope and representation. Women and minority-owned businesses have assumed leadership roles on the board.
The Chamber represents more than 650 companies and organizations throughout the Eastern Shore including agriculture, finance, health care, education, hospitality, foodservice, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, professional services and shipbuilding.
Still the backbone of our local economy, small businesses make up over 80 percent of Chamber membership.
The Chamber’s mission has stood the test of time: It remains devoted to serving members’ interests, providing measurable value through business advocacy, connections, and education, and promoting economic development for the whole region.
Rotary Club of Salisbury
Last year, the Rotary Club of Salisbury celebrated 100 years and A Century of Service to the community.
Chartered in 1920 and just 15 years after the establishment of Rotary, it was the first service organization to come into existence on the Eastern Shore.
A club’s heart and soul is its members. The original members of the Club were the Community leaders, business leaders, entrepreneurs, powerful and influential leaders of the day and community. As the club progressed through the years, the composition never changed, but expanded to make it better and more robust by including persons with other expertise, persons in management, persons in professions, persons of various ages, races, religions and gender. The club has delivered Meals On Wheels, distributed dictionaries to students and acquired and filled backpacks with school supplies.
It aided Help and Outreach Point of Entry with donations of blankets, backpacks, gloves, clothing, and other items. It played a significant role in the set-up and takedown of the Eastern Shore Mission of Mercy (dental services for the needy), and assisted HALO and the Fruitland Community Center.
Most recently, the club helped the newly established Challenger Little League Project and Field 7 1/2.
July 16 Green Hill event
The Chamber of Commerce put its 100th anniversary celebration plans on hold last year as the nation was derailed by the pandemic.
This year, however, a celebration was planned for July 16 at Green Hill Country Club in Quantico.
It is that Friday night event where Perdue Farms, the Chamber and Rotary Club of Salisbury will be honored with the Salisbury Award.
Dubbed a “Centennial Party on the Wicomico,” the event is presented by The Ross and Pohanka of Salisbury. It will take place from 4 to 8 p.m..
Guests will gather on the golf and country club’s 10th fairway, overlooking the Wicomico River.
Live music, signature culinary delights and premium open bars.
Proceeds will benefit the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
For more information, contact Bill Chambers at 410-749-0144, email email@example.com.