Kenneth H. Eskelund
AAAP Hall of Honor

Dr. Eskelund was born February 13, 1924 in Winslow, the son of Carl and Idabel (Lintern) Eskelund. He attended public schools and graduated from Winslow High School in 1941. After graduation, he attended the New England Aircraft School in Boston, studying aircraft mechanics. He then served 3 years in the U.S. Army Air Corp as an aircraft mechanic and propeller specialist serving in the USA, Okinawa and India. After an honorable discharge, Ken enrolled at Michigan State University earning the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1951. While at Michigan State, he met and married Shirley Ann Jedele. During the summer vacation of 1949, while in veterinary school, Ken returned to Winslow where he was challenged by Donald Corbett to raise 20,000 baby broiler chicks (which was probably one of the largest flocks in the country at that time). This experience made him realize the great need for veterinarians in the poultry industry. After graduation, he chose poultry medicine as his career, serving in a diagnostic laboratory in New Jersey and the State Veterinarian’s Office in Indiana.
In 1953, Donald Corbett convinced Ken to return to Winslow to manage CMT Company, the broiler growing division of Fort Halifax Packing Company. In 1957, Dr. Eskelund saw the need to better protect chickens against infectious diseases. He founded and served as president of Maine Biological Laboratories (MBL) in partnership with Dr. Harold Chute, a poultry pathologist with the University of Maine, to produce poultry vaccines. While growing the vaccine company, he had to earn his living by doing poultry disease diagnostic work and consulting. Maine had never vaccinated chickens due to a belief in a type of state wide SPF program. In order to introduce his products, he set up services to go to the hundreds of farms and apply these vaccines. As this service grew, he founded Maine Poultry Services. He also founded Maine Poultry Consultants (MPC) with Dr. William Gerencer to diagnose poultry diseases. In addition, he founded Northeast Laboratory Services to provide microbiological and analytic services to the local poultry industry.
MBL was originally located in a strip mall in Waterville. They built their own laboratory on the China Road in neighboring Winslow in 1963. In 1966, Eskelund and Chute sold the company to Norwich Pharmaceutical Company. Ken was replaced after five years by Norwich executive Robert D. Keenum but Norwich was not successful under the new management. In 1970, Ken repurchased MBL with John Osbourne (his original employee) as his partner. During the 1960s he developed and popularized the use of inactivated vaccines. Because of this, MBL developed national and international sales. The inactivated Newcastle vaccine was so effective that baby chicks sent to Argentina were thought to have velogenic ND and were condemned until Eskelund and Dr. Frazier of Arbor Acres made an emergency trip there and talked them out of eradicating. In 1988 he sold the business to GHEN Corporation, a Japanese firm, but stayed on as president until his retirement in 1993.
After his retirement from MBL, Ken served on several bank boards and devoted much of his time to charitable organizations. He was a benefactor and served on the Board of the Alfond Youth Center as well as the Muskie Center in Waterville. He financially supported many local charities as well as donating to AAAP and endowing its Eskelund Preceptorship Program. He received the AAAP Special Service Award in 2000 and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Michigan State University in 2005. Other honors included the Philanthropy Day Award for Outstanding Philanthropist of the State of Maine, presented by the Northern New England Chapter of the Association of Fund-Raising Professionals, the naming of the Eskelund Conference Center Building on the campus of the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, the naming of a street after him in neighboring Fairfield, Maine, as well as the Distinguished Community Service Award by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. Many other local organizations have honored Dr. Eskelund (and his wife Shirley) over recent years for work they have done in the community. Dr. Kenneth H. Eskelund passed away on May 30, 2013 but his name and legacy will live on at AAAP.