Fifty-five Years and Counting: Dot Lane Isn’t Done Yet
Updated: May 19
By Caleb Hicks
Dot Lane began her career in the poultry industry in 1967. She’s 82 now, with no plans to retire anytime soon.
“People ask me when I’m going to retire,” said Lane, who is the materials and inventory controls manager for Koch Foods of Gadsden. “This [the poultry industry] is my home. I’ve never asked but for one job, and that’s because my husband told me, ‘If you’re going to have any money this summer, you’re going to have to earn it.’ He thought every woman should be educated to be able to take care of herself.”
Having grown up in Oxford, Alabama, as the eldest sibling to five brothers, the 55-year poultry industry veteran said her upbringing helped shape who she is today.
“My mother was a girly girl, but I would’ve rather been outside and climbing in trees,” Lane said. “I grew up on a cotton and dairy farm, so being ‘one of the guys’ then and even now was nothing new to me. I think it’s helped me deal with personalities throughout the years.”
During those years, Lane was the backbone of several acquisitions and mergers of companies, including Walley Milling Company, Spring Valley Farms, Lane Processing, Tyson Foods and more.
In fact, in the late ’80s, she successfully led Lane Processing out of declared bankruptcy after the company was signed over to its employees.
“I’ve always believed in having a plan and a gamebook,” Lane said. “We brought the company out of bankruptcy in three years. There were nights I wondered how we were going to get cleaning supplies just to clean the plant. I had made so many connections with people and resources, so I went to them for help.”
Not only did those resources come in handy during bankruptcy proceedings, but also during “Evening of Fun” ticket sales for the annual Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, or APEA, fundraising concert, which she began helping with around the start of her poultry career.
“The first year I started selling tickets, I won several awards, including Rookie of the Year,” Lane said. “I sold around 300 tickets. They quit counting after 200 because they knew no one was going to catch up to that. I referred to the same resources who helped me through those tough times, and they came through for me once again.”
For Harold Hunt, who is Koch’s complex manager for the Gadsden facility, Lane is more than just an employee.
“Dot takes her job seriously,” Hunt said. “I always look forward to getting my morning cup of coffee and having a short conversation with her. She has been a staple at this plant for a lot of years and is loved by all of us in the Koch Foods family.”
With her astounding career, Lane can almost guarantee this will be her last job.
“It’s almost come full circle for me,” she said. “The poultry industry has provided me with a very good living. It helped me and my husband educate our son. After my husband passed away in 1994 after 34 years of marriage, the industry helped me educate my grandsons.
“I feel like this job will be my swan song. I’ve had a lot of blessings and kept my faith. I haven’t sacrificed my integrity for anything, or anyone.”