L&M is at home in North Carolina
With its headquarters in Raleigh, NC, and farms in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, L&M’s roots run deep in the Southeast.
North Carolina, however, holds a special place in the heart of L&M, as it was founded in 1964 by Joe McGee in the state, and has always valued its grower partnerships throughout the state.
“North Carolina is a vital part of our year-round program,” said Cody Dunn, product manager of L&M. “It allows us to bridge the gap in production from Georgia to our northern farms. It allows us to keep our customers in high quality fresh vegetables.”
And because the company grows such a wide range of produce in North Carolina, unlike some other states, it has the capability of starting in early spring in the coastal plains of Eastern North Carolina and continuing to produce all summer long as it transitions to the mountainous Western part of the state.
“No farmer ever likes to count their chickens before they hatch so to speak, but our current spring/summer line up is looking like one for the books,” Dunn said. “Our farms have done a phenomenal job to get us prepared and continue to strive for excellence.”
One of the chief goals at L&M is to make customers for life, and Dunn noted the only way to truly do that is by establishing partnership with those it works with.
“We have a mix of top-notch retailers, foodservice and wholesale customers — some of which have been customers for decades,” Dunn said. “I’m so proud and humbled to be a small part of this leading company. It truly takes a village to make it happen and, in my opinion, we have the best team in the business.”
Farming is not for the faint of heart though, and 2022 is tracking to be the toughest year on record for farmers due to a long list of reasons. Dunn cites fertilizer prices nearly doubling, diesel fuel up 60 percent, chemicals, seed and materials are up at least 20 percent as an average.
“Labor rates have also increased an average of 8 percent,” he said. “Not to mention all the materials associated with our business (boxes, gloves, plastic, mulch, drip tape) that are all up significantly.”
Still, L&M is looking to continue expanding its farming acreage to better serve the needs of customers.
“We are going full steam ahead in 2022 and beyond,” Dunn said. “Increasing our acreage and pushing value-added items for our customers. Our East Coast consolidation and repack facilities, located in Palatka, FL and Raleigh, service our Northeast, Midwest and Southeastern customers with fresh value-added produce packed to the individual needs of our customers constantly broadening our product offerings.”
Behind the scenes, L&M’s director of business development, Bobby Creel, was recently awarded the highest honor from the Southeast Produce Council — The Terry Vorhees Lifetime Achievement Award.
“We are extremely proud of Bobby and his many years of dedication to L&M and the produce industry,” Dunn said.