AlaTrade Foods Announces President Josh Whitley

AlaTrade Foods Announces President Josh Whitley


Josh Whitley

GUNTERSVILLE — AlaTrade Foods, Inc., a 100% employee-owned company with poultry processing plants in Albertville, Boaz, and Phenix City, Alabama, has appointed a new President, Josh Whitley.

For his entire professional career, Whitley has had a hand in food processing in some capacity, bringing with him 21 years of experience in the industry. Whitley has a vision for continuous financial stability of AlaTrade, consistent growth of the company, and a desire to stay connected with customer satisfaction, remaining true and building upon the ambitions of AlaTrade’s founder, Davis Lee.

Having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Arkansas in 2003, Whitley found himself new to the job-force and in need of some post-graduation employment. In a similar timeframe, Tyson Foods, Inc., had recently acquired IBP and had two industrial engineering positions to fill, one in South Arkansas and one in Blountsville, Alabama. Serendipitously, someone else was hired for the Arkansas role, and Whitley accepted the offer to move to Alabama for the other industrial engineering position. Having grown up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, this was a big leap for Whitley, but would inspire a long and successful career in the food processing industry.

Following his two-year introduction into the industry serving as an industrial engineer, Whitley was promoted to General Production Manager at the Tyson Blountsville plant. Success breeds new opportunities, and after three years with Tyson, Whitley joined the team at Smithfield Packing, an independently owned company of Smithfield Foods, as the Industrial Engineering Manager at their corporate headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, where he served an additional three years.

It was with half a decade of knowledge in the food processing industry and a true “spirit of entrepreneurship” that Josh Whitley invested a modest inheritance into managing his own, small, food processing plant in Louisburg, North Carolina, where the specialty was ready-to-eat BBQ that the company would distribute to regional retailers.

To Whitley, having his own company would allow him to invest in himself, while also exercising the ability to create a work environment more specialized to his vision. Running this company was extremely hands-on, and it became a family affair. Whitley’s wife since 2005, Alison, played a key part in the day-to-day operations of the plant.

After two years of doing everything at his small processing plant, Whitley sold the company. Both in good fun and as a testament to his growth, Whitley calls these years of brand-ownership his “MBA,” as it taught him countless lessons on running a successful company. Whitley comes from that experience with a keen understanding of company finances, and he “likes to share about the experience because it was defining,” another part of his journey in becoming the leader and employee he is today.

Following his entrepreneurial stint, Whitley sought new opportunities with familiar footing. He accepted Tyson's offer to join their business engineering team, which he did for roughly a year before advancing into operations as an Assistant Plant Manager in Sedalia, Missouri. After a year in the assistant’s seat, Whitley graciously advanced to Plant Manager.

Although having prior experience in operations, Whitley remarked about this position, “this is where things really took off for me, leadership-wise,” as the Sedalia plant was in a tremendously transformative stage. As the plant manager, Whitley spent four years working toward significant betterment of the plant, building a better team, improving the safety culture, and striving to create a better work environment for the people he represented as Plant Manager.

Taking on his next big challenge, Whitley was appointed as Tyson’s Managing Director of Supply Chain for all non-fresh poultry. Working at the corporate office in this role allowed Whitley to communicate with people throughout the poultry industry, including leadership of AlaTrade Foods at times. After a short stint at corporate, Whitley moved back into operations as the Complex Manager for Tyson's North Alabama Complex.

During his four years as Complex Manager, Whitley became more familiar with the leadership team and the work of AlaTrade through a contractual relationship between the company and some of the plants in his complex. Further advancement came when he was promoted to Vice President of Operations for “multiple sites in the fresh-poultry industry,” something that Whitley felt was a totally different world for him, and appreciated as another massive learning experience, where he furthered his industry aptitude.

Vice President of Operations for Tyson Foods, Inc., was the last official title that Whitley held at the company before internal restructuring pushed him to pursue other endeavors. He remained progressive in the industry, staying involved and up to date by consulting for a corporation that facilitates A.I. within food processing plants to safeguard employee welfare and procedures, among other things.

While working in consulting, Whitley continued watching for ways to impact the industry, helping others as he could with the expertise he had gained over the years. He recalled the fond relationships and experiences he previously had with AlaTrade, and he reached out to CEO/President John Pittard to reconnect.

John Pittard has served AlaTrade as both President and CEO since 2006, the capstone of his impressive 45 years in the poultry industry. After a long career in the food processing industry, Pittard began looking towards a long-term future for AlaTrade and its employee-owners. He and the board of directors decided to seek a candidate to serve as the new president of the company with Pittard guiding the way to success by staying at the helm as CEO.

“Josh will enhance the growth of AlaTrade in many ways,” shared Pittard. “He has held many key positions in the poultry industry and is bringing all this experience with him to AlaTrade. This experience, along with his leadership skills and ‘people first’ mentality, makes him a great fit to lead AlaTrade.”

As AlaTrade’s new President, Josh Whitley prepares to lead with two decades of life-lessons in business, management, finance, and all other fields that he accrued knowledge in throughout his time as an Industrial Engineer, Manager at varying levels, small-business owner, and V.P. of Operations. Further, Whitley brings with him “a very high bar for performance” and the shared value with other AlaTrade leadership that the customers and people are what fuels the passion and drives the work.

Whitley is focused on "polishing and sustaining the company in its success" and remaining steadfast in its growth-minded mission. Perhaps more than anything, he is committed to the financial stability of the company as he aims for growth and remains committed to ensuring the financial future of AlaTrade employee-owners.

Notably, when asked about AlaTrade’s ESOP program Whitley remarked, “empowerment and morale sets AlaTrade apart”, and went on to commend the one-of-a-kind approach that he hopes to do justice. Whitley said, “I love the idea of [the employees] profiting from the company’s success, and then getting empowered from that.”

Josh Whitley brings with him surplus industry knowledge and the ambition to use said knowledge in guiding his leadership, while also rooting himself in the strong heritage of AlaTrade as it is known and beloved.

Alongside him in this new career venture is his wife, who has seen him through nearly 20 of his 21 years in the industry. Together, Josh and Alison have 2 children, Jake (16) and Lizzie (12).

About AlaTrade Foods: AlaTrade is a 100% employee-owned company that works within the poultry industry to provide services for its customers that choose to outsource a part of their process. The relationship can be as simple as a fee for service (toll processing), or more complex to include co-packing of products for direct distribution.

AlaTrade plants have approvals from many national account foodservice companies to produce products for their restaurants. As a team working together for the same goal, the employee-owners of AlaTrade continue the culture of putting each other and their customer first. Processing poultry is what they do. Promoting people and pursuing profitability for themselves and their customers is who they are.

To learn more about or contact AlaTrade, please visit or follow them on Facebook-, or; LinkedIn -

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