Danny Walker, chief executive officer of Heartland Catfish Company since its founding in 1996, was named one of the Mississippi Business Journal’s CEOs of the Year for 2019. The annual award is given to high performing CEOs representing large, mid-size and small companies throughout Mississippi.
“It’s an honor to be named a 2019 CEO of the Year by the Mississippi Business Journal. Heartland Catfish has accomplished a lot this past year and being able to constantly improve our products while helping the Mississippi economy grow is what motivates us every day,” said Walker.
The CEO Awards of Mississippi recognize leaders throughout the state of Mississippi for their work among top executives in their respective field. The Mississippi Business Journal selects candidates in the categories of Nonprofit, CEOs, Rising Stars, Large Companies, Medium Companies and Small Companies. Danny Walker was chosen as a leading CEO for his work helping the company achieve strong growth and success, as well as made a positive impact on his community.
“These are folks who drive business, create jobs, earn profits for shareholders, build new facilities, and make major contributions to our state, its communities, and its people. Business is indeed the driving force for our state and nation, and these people are the driving force for business,” wrote Ross Reily, Mississippi Business Journal editor, in the MBJ March 29 E-Edition.
Among Walker’s biggest accomplishments for Heartland Catfish is overseeing the negotiation of a buyout of a competitor and merging the two companies under the Heartland Catfish brand in 2008. The merger included extensive employee, owner and community relations to facilitate a smooth transition. Walker worked to establish new protocols for incorporating new facilities into existing processing and packaging capabilities, expanding the processing capacity to better serve customers.
“Having a background in corporate strategic and financial planning as well as corporate negotiation definitely helped make this process a smooth transition. We were able to begin processing fish from our Alabama plant immediately, which prevented a loss of time and resources and ensured our employees had jobs throughout the entire merger,” said Walker.
Walker is an active member of the catfish industry and the business community in Greenwood, Miss. He has served as a board member of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and the Delta Council, where Heartland Catfish is a member. Heartland Catfish is also an active member of The Catfish Institute and the Catfish Farmers of America, where Walker says the company can be a part of quality standards, new product development and superb customer service.
“The ability to build community relations is important to our business and is part of what makes it so successful within the business community,” said Walker.
Walker is actively involved at the Episcopal Church of Greenwood. He is an alumnus of Mississippi State University where he earned a bachelor of science in agriculture, engineering, technology and business and a bachelor of business administration in banking and finance. Walker is proud to be the fifth generation of his family raised in Mississippi and has enjoyed raising his children and watching his grandchildren grow up in his home state, as well.
The official list of the 2019 CEO Awards of Mississippi winners can be found in the Mississippi Business Journal.