William Bennett Tackett (1925 – 2012)

Humble Beginnings

Heartland Catfish Company was founded in 1995 by William Tackett, his son, Jim Tackett, and son-in-law, Joe Walker. Yet the foundation for the company’s longtime success was built decades before, when 6-year-old William Tackett began his first job for one penny per day. In the years that followed, William developed his work ethic, dedication, integrity, determination and Christian principles that allowed him to guide the growth and success of one of the largest vertically-integrated entities in the U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish industry today.

Mr. Tackett and his wife, Marue, began farming in 1948 in Arkansas. In 1964, Mr. Tackett and his family moved to Belzoni in the Mississippi Delta to farm rice, soybeans and cotton. Then, in 1968, he build his first catfish pond in Humphreys County. The next several years saw the family move to Leflore County and Sunflower County, where they continued to farm rice, corn and soybeans, built more catfish ponds and began a catfish hatchery with brooder and fingerling operations.
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Heartland Catfish Company

The farming operation grew to some 7,500 acres of water for catfish and 10,000 acres of cropland. Frustrated with the difficulties of transporting the vast quantities of fish to various farmer-owned cooperative processors in the area, Mr. Tackett and Tackett Fish Farms launched plans to process their own fish. Thus, in 1995, Heartland Catfish Company was founded. Because of the business and personal principles Mr. Tackett established, Heartland Catfish Company grew rapidly and, in 2000, doubled its processing operation. In 2008, Heartland Catfish purchased a processing facility in Greensboro, Ala., that further increased the scope of the processing operation.

Mr. Tackett continued to work daily, both in the fish farming and processing aspects of his businesses, until his passing in 2012. It was common to see him, even at 87 years old, driving a bulldozer or motor grader, working on a levee or feeding fish from his one-ton feed truck. He also regularly attended the Board of Directors meetings that oversaw Heartland Catfish Company operations.

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Leadership and Legacy

Over the course of his lifelong career, Mr. Tackett served on the Board of Directors of Delta Pride Catfish, Delta Western Feed Mill, Catfish Farmers of America, Catfish Farmers of Mississippi and The Catfish Institute. Mr. Tackett also received various industry awards, including 1989 Catfish Farmers of America Outstanding Farmer, 1992 Delta Council Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Aquaculture, 2000 Lancaster/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year and 2006 Catfish Farmers of American Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr. Tackett left behind a legacy of a man who lived a life of honor, integrity, frugality, determination, hard work and Christian principles. Heartland Catfish Company was founded on this legacy and is proud to continue striving to meet the high standards set forth by our founding father.