When you think of Herschel Walker, Georgia Bulldogs, Heisman Trophy winner and NFL running back usually come to mind. But to more than 800 people in South, they just know him as their boss.
Since retiring from the NFL more than 20 years ago, Walker has built three massive companies, which include a chicken plant, a drapery business and promotions company that currently employs more than 800 people in the South.
“I’ve been in the chicken business for about 20 years. I’m the largest minority-owned chicken business in the United States,” Walker tells FOX Business. “I’m essentially a mini Tyson Foods.”
Walker launched his first business, Renaissance Man Foods in 1999, shortly after his retirement from the Dallas Cowboys, because he wanted to make good quality foods for his strict diet.
“Now, we have over 600 employees and we do chicken all over the United States into Canada. We won a lot of wars too,” he says.
Those wars, he adds, were mostly with the country’s largest producer of chicken, Tyson Foods.
“Tyson manufactured for me for about five years until we started to sting, and what I mean by that is that we started to compete for the same customer and I had to make a decision: do I go out of business or do I invest in my plants?”
Walker said his mom told him to keep the business running because a lot of people depended on those jobs to support their families.
“She said if you close your business you’re going to lose some jobs for some people,” he says.
At that moment, Walker said he decided to change his views on his business and no longer wanted to focus on money.
“My thing was as long as the company pays for itself. Like paid the rent and paid all the bills and I don't have to put money in it that I'll be okay,” he says.
Five years later, the Georgia Bulldogs star bought into a drapery company in North Carolina that supplies curtains for hotels across the country.
“My mom was a seamstress and when I bought into the company, they only had 25 women. Today, we got 150,” Walker says.
Walker then founded H. Walker Enterprises, LLC and started his own promotions company out of Atlanta, Georgia that works with Fortune 500 companies on promotional goods. What’s more, the two-time Pro Bowler still serves as the chief executive for all three companies, which is something he is most proud of.
“My companies are doing good stuff and I'm happy because I think I've given a lot of people an opportunity to help their families and that’s what I think got me to do it all.”