Ed Fryar looking for next chapter following sale of Ozark Mountain Poultry

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,101 views 

If ever there was a perfectly matched company and chief executive officer, it was Ozark Mountain Poultry (OMP) of Rogers and Ed Fryar.

Fryar’s career in the poultry industry, though, has come to an end — at least temporarily. Springdale-based George’s Inc., a fourth generation family-owned and operated poultry and prepared foods company, has completed its purchase of OMP, which was founded by Fryar in 2001. The deal was first announced in early September, and financial details were not disclosed. Combined, George’s will own and operate eight production locations in four states, employing over 7,000 people.

“It’s an exciting time at George’s as we integrate two established Arkansas family-owned and operated companies into one, best-in-class operation,” Charles George, co-CEO of George’s, said in a statement. “The combined strengths of both organizations will help drive our growth and innovation for generations to come.”

As for Fryar, what does his next chapter look like?

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’m trying to figure that out right now.”

Fryar, 65, joked that he has a low threshold for boredom, so he isn’t planning on retiring from an agricultural career of more than 40 years. He has signed a no-compete agreement with George’s, so whatever is next in his career, it won’t be in the chicken business.

“Eggs, beef, hogs — I don’t know,” he said. “Right now I’m still trying to get used to the fact that I don’t have to wake up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. worrying about whatever it is that’s the big issue of that day. I suspect it will be six months or maybe even a year before I figure out what it is I will be doing next.”

Fryar, a University of Arkansas graduate and a former professor of agricultural economics at the UA for 13 years, said George’s — the 11th largest poultry producer in the United States — was a good fit to acquire OMP, which employs more than 1,800 people and processes more than 1.2 million chickens per week.

“There were only a couple of chicken companies I would have thought about selling OMP to,” he said.

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