LIVINGSTON, Calif. – Ron Foster, president and CEO of Foster Farms, announced plans to step down from his position at the company.

Foster will remain with the company as an owner and director following the executive transition. He will continue as president and CEO until the company completes its search for a successor.

In a letter to Foster Farms employees, Foster said, “I have greatly enjoyed the past 11 years as your CEO. During this period, we have witnessed some of the most challenging and some of the most rewarding times in our company’s history.”

“I am confident that Foster Farms is positioned to do great things,” he added.

Foster Farms has celebrated business successes and weathered adversity during Ron Foster's tenure at the helm of the company. The expansive chicken-processing firm grew 70 percent during the 11 years Foster served as president and CEO. But the company also was at the center of aSalmonellaoutbreak that sickened more than 600 people and, more recently, the target of a burglary at its plant in Caruthers, Calif. that left 1,000 chickens bludgeoned to death.

Max and Verda Foster founded the company in 1939 after borrowing $1,000 against a life-insurance policy, according to the company's website. What began as an 80-acre farm in Modesto, Calif. grew into a multi-state chicken and turkey processing giant. In a statement, Foster Farms said: “The company maintained its position as the No. 1 brand of fresh chicken in the Western United States and became the first major poultry producer in the US to be certified by the American Humane Association. In 2014, Foster Farms became the No. 1 brand of frozen cooked chicken in the Western United States as well. The company is in the second year of a five-year strategic growth plan initiated by Foster, which will see the introduction of major new products under the flagship Foster Farms fresh brand in 2015 and new product entries in prepared foods categories.”