Dollar Farm Products celebrates 74 years of growth and servicePublished 7:42am Saturday, May 10, 2014
Dollar Farm Products celebrated 75 years of doing business with Decatur County farmers by hosting a customer appreciation lunch on Wednesday, May 7.
The company has been in continuous operation for three-quarters of a century under the direction of three generations of Dollars.
Tommy Dollar, current owner and CEO, has provided a history of the business that chronicles the growth and many changes it has seen over 75 years.
Joe Dollar Sr. began handling peanuts in 1939 from an old office located in what was then called Diffe, and later became West Bainbridge.
Four Dollar sons, Joe Jr., Jerome, Lamar and Hubert, all came home from serving in World War II and the Korean War and went to work in the family business.
Dollar Farm Products was incorporated in 1960 under the management of Jerome Dollar. It expanded the product line into blending dry fertilizer — one of the first companies east of the Mississippi River to do so.
In 1962 Robert Cohen signed on with the company, and the first metal peanut warehouse was built in 1966, when the company began using peanut wagons and wagon dryers.
In 1972 it began blending liquid fertilizer, and purchased its first semi truck-trailer to help ship commodities and fertilizer. Over the years the fleet has expanded to 14 trucks and over 30 trailers. The grain operation expanded greatly in 1976-77 and a continuous corn dryer was added in 1978.
Tommy Dollar began working as a truck driver for the family business while he was a student in high school then college. He married Audrey Dollar in 1983 and their son Thomas Hubert Dollar III, better known as Hugh, was born in 1986. Hugh is now on his way to becoming the 4th generation of Dollars to run the company.
Dollar recalls that in the late 1980s grain prices fell below the cost of production due to the Russian grain embargo, and cotton began to look like a good investment. Tommy and his father Hubert built Decatur Gin in 1988. As peanut and cotton became primary crops in Southwest Georgia, Dollar Farm Products added more equipment — trucks, floaters and peanut wagons —in time to celebrate their 50th year in 1989.
Tommy began to purchase the company in Sept., 1994, and as cotton expanded, the Miller County Gin was formed in 1994. Then came the flood of ‘94 and Hubert had his first major stroke in October. He passed away in January, 2001.
DFP has continued upgrades and hiring of employees. Meanwhile, Tommy became a founding director of American Peanut Growers groups when it started in 2003.
Robert Cohen was named president of DFP and Todd Massy became Vice president in 2010. Then, Tommy retired from the two gins in 2013.
Changes in 2014 include Greg Murray coming on board in outside sales.
The company is continually adding more infrastructure for handling farmers’ needs in grain and rail shipments. New grain bins and replacement of load elevators to weigh grain allow the company to load out more truck loads in a shorter period of time.
Tommy gives an enormous amount of credit to his 38 employees who handle the day-to-day operations. He said this gives him time to study and plan for the future. Asked what is on the horizon in agribusiness, he replies that in the next 35 years there will be two billion more people in the world and that we must double the grain production in order to keep up with the growing population. He explains DFP has doubled its capacity over the last 40 years, and it will be necessary to continue and improve that growth at that level by using new technology.
His best advice for farmers today is to diversify their crops and products. The key to any agri-business is to try to stay ahead of the trend, and this Dollar Farm Products has managed to do for 75 years.