Hamilton places great emphasis on the company’s family foundation. “The investment in a family farm and ties to the land give us a different perspective from corporate-run operations,” he says. “This is more than a business to us. It is our reputation and our legacy. Having children and other family members carry on our tradition and assets is crucial.”
As Southern Valley looks to its future, the company is blessed to have yet another generation entering its fold. Kent’s oldest two children, Austin and Courtney, returned back to the family farm after college to take on prominent roles within the company. Since Wanda, now 74, is beginning to transition into retirement, she welcomed granddaughter Courtney as her understudy. Courtney currently assumed most of the administrative duties as well as additional HR work and other tasks.
Austin joins his father in concentrating on the production side of the business in efforts to continue the company’s growth and bring new innovation to the business. “I love farming — especially developing new products and packaging to be able to offer something different to the market,” he says.
To better serve customers, the company expanded growing and packing abilities to include farming in the Yucatan Peninsula during the winter months and Tennessee in the summer growing months. “By farming these two additional locations, we are able to supply our customers with product yearround,” explains Kent Hamilton.
“These additional growing areas will afford us more uniform production with less peaks and valleys,” adds Courtney Hamilton. “We have all the facilities and infrastructure we need to be successful in leveling out volume and quality for our customers.”
The new generations also look to the company’s state-of-the-art packing shed and high-humidity forced air cooler to offer added benefit. “We developed value-added packaging,” says Austin. “When we renovated our packing house in 2012, we included a climate-controlled repack room. We now offer convenience-packaged salad cucumbers, green beans and yellow squash in bags in response to customer demand. We strive to find ways to support our customers and help differentiate the product for them.”
Though generations, products and packaging may change, the core foundation of Southern Valley remains the same — a commitment to integrity and values. “We give God all the glory for anything and everything we do,” says Austin Hamilton. “Our family values are very important to our company and allow us to serve our customers with the highest standards in and out of the field.”