13 Dec Here’s Why Our Newest Food Processor Joined The SFPA
The Seaside Grown story is an amazing one of a member of a multi-generational family farm on a unique mission to grow his family’s legacy by branching out on his own but continuing to generate commerce from the land. Gus Sanders believed that the sandy soil and salty air of Saint Helena Island, just across from Hilton Head Island, was a great place to grow the best tomatoes. That was back in 1903. Six generations later, his great, great, grandson continues to refine and reinvent that legacy.
Today, Gus’ family farm will ship more than 20 million pounds of fresh tomatoes up and down the east coast… just in a single month in June. Now, fifth-generation founder entrepreneur, Ross Taylor, and his new partner, Nikolaus Lischerong, have begun to produce their consumer products under the Seaside Grown label that ranges from bloody Mary mix to BBQ sauce, salsa and more sold online and at grocers, restaurants, and other retailers across the East coast. He is also offering to other fellow family farmers the opportunity to sell their products to Seaside Grown to be marketed via his own brand or as an ingredient within his products if they match up to his company’s commitment to traceability and sustainability.
“We’ve come a long way in the past five years in connecting with other family farmers to help them and Seaside Grown succeed,” says Ross Taylor. “Five years from now, we want to move toward value-added produce. We want to maintain our focus on sustainability by incorporating vegetables and fruits that might not meet processor specifications but can be use in other ways, preserving the environment by not wasting the food through disposal. It will also help the bottom lines of our family farmer partners.”
So why did this successful company take time out to join the SFPA? We asked.
“I’ve known Thomas Hunter from McCall Farms since college and respect him as a major processor,” Ross says. “When he asked that I join the SFPA and explained the benefits I had to say yes, and I’m glad that I did.”
“If you are an emerging brand in the food business in the Southeast, joining the SFPA is a smart choice.”
“When I attended the Hilton Head Island convention, I learned a lot and got to know folks from other significant manufacturers,” Ross explains. “Members didn’t view me as a competitor, but someone that they can help grow their business. At the general sessions, I witnessed experts sharing knowledge on important topics to my company. The economy, what’s going on Capitol Hill, new forms of packaging and processing technology are all important topics for me. I am so glad I joined the SFPA and look forward to joining everyone in Charleston next year. If you are an emerging brand in the food business in the Southeast, joining the SFPA is a smart choice.”
Taylor represents the next generation of food processors who are joining the SFPA to learn, engage and network with like-minded processors and suppliers with larger, more established companies who began their journey with the association decades before. The opportunity is likewise one of the best deals in professional organizations.
Beyond the obvious networking opportunities, they also receive free online training opportunities for themselves or their staff via SFPA University. The training covers plant safety, process optimization, management, and human resources. Members can offer their plant or field workers who are employees the opportunity for their children to apply for SFPA scholarships. The association regularly briefs its members on pending legislation or regulations that affect their business and serve as advocates to Capitol Hill. The SFPA Food Forum e-newsletter shares stories and insights with members throughout the year. The annual convention is likewise filled with educational sessions and opportunities to network. All for just $400 for an annual membership.
If you are a food processor who shares the vision of a thriving future for food processors in the Southeast, learn more or sign up as a member. Your first step is to learn more through the association’s website, then join us as an SFPA member. If you have questions, contact Executive Director Kay Rentzel or give her a call at (717) 329-8421.