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Turkey Industry Pioneer Receives NTF Award

by 5m Editor
21 February 2011, at 10:47am

US - The National Turkey Federation (NTF) honoured George Nicholas, founder of Nicholas Turkey Breeding Farms, with the NTF Lifetime Achievement Award.

Presented during the NTF Annual Convention, Mr Nicholas received the award posthumously for his long-term, unselfish dedication to creative innovation in turkey production.

Jihad Douglas and Yan Ghazikhanian, Aviagen Turkeys, accepted the award on behalf of Nicholas's family and the company he founded. Mr Nicholas passed away in 1985.

In presenting the award, NTF Chairman, Yubert Envia said: "There are many people who undoubtedly could claim to have a hand in the creation of the broad-breasted white turkey we know today. However, if you want to know who is responsible for putting the modern commercial production on the dinner plates of millions of Americans, there is only one name: George Nicholas."

George Nicholas started raising and breeding turkeys in 1939 when he founded Nicholas Turkey Breeding Farms after attending the University of California at Davis. Before long, the Nicholas Bronze Turkey was considered one of the best in the industry. Much of the company's success heading into the 1950s was due to Nicholas’ aptitude for understanding the turkey industry and its changing market.

"Of George's many skills, the one that stood out above all others was his ability to listen to the customer and gauge the direction in which the industry was heading. He saw that the chicken industry was moving steadily toward white birds, and he understood that the turkey industry would need to make the same conversion," said Mr Envia.

In 1978, Mr Nicholas sold his company to IBEC, an investment and equity firm founded by Nelson Rockefeller and his brothers. That company eventually became Arbor Acres and is now part of the Aviagen family.

Mr Nicholas received a 'special service award' from NTF in 1965 and in 1983 was the first turkey breeder inducted into the US Poultry Industry's Hall of Fame.

Mr Envia concluded: "It says a lot about a man whose customers, business partners and employees refer to him as 'father' or 'dad'. Few people can truly say that their legacy lives on long after they are gone, but 25 years after his passing, George's legacy not only lives but it continues to grow."

NTF initiated the Lifetime Achievement Award programme at its 1946 Annual Convention. Since that time, 66 recipients have been recognised with this honor. Past recipients include turkey industry leaders, executives of national and state poultry/turkey organizations, allied industry leaders, government officials, university professors, researchers and journalists.