Columbia Farms commenced operations in 1982 with facilities that had earlier been utilized by the Southeastern Poultry Company. Initially the property consisted of a feed mill and a hatchery in Leesville as well as a processing plant in Columbia and a distribution center in Charleston. At that time nearly 250,000 birds were processed each week by 250 workers. During the following months Columbia Farms engaged in aggressive expansion, and in seven years the company increased production to 650,000 chickens per week and added distribution centers in Conway, Greenville, and Florence as well as two in North Carolina. Within ten years the corporation owned a distribution facility in Massachusetts and had acquired a feed company with sites in Lavonia, Georgia, and Greenville, largely to meet the rising needs within the company. By that time the corporation was shipping 1.2 million birds each seven days with a labor force of more than 1,000 workers.
By 1992 Columbia Farms had grown to become the largest poultry processor in the state and one of South Carolina’s ten largest privately held companies. In July 1998 the company divested itself of its Massachusetts operation, sold its interest in a joint venture undertaken some time before, and was acquired in total by Nash Johnson and Sons’ Farms of Rose Hill, North Carolina. Columbia Farms continued to operate under its corporate trade name. The parent company additionally markets a variety of poultry products under its familiar House of Raeford brand. Columbia Farms actively promotes the export of chickens and chicken parts to customers around the world through its company-created export arm, Agri Trade. Products shipped overseas include dark meat, viscera, and 250,000 pounds of chicken feet each month to Asia.
Rogers, Aida. “Poultry in Motion.” Sandlapper 6 (spring 1995): 20–24.