Ben Hill Griffin IV
Ben Hill Griffin, Inc.
- Hill in his family's packinghouse. A good amount of fresh fruit goes right from their groves to Florida's Natural Growers to be made into orange juice.
- Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. company trucks, seen here in the unmistakable "Griffin Green," have become local icons of the citrus community.
- As a fourth generation citrus grower, Hill holds tight to the strong work ethic that has been passed down to him from his family.
In Frostproof, Florida, a fleet of pickup trucks painted what has become the iconic "Griffin Green" can be seen zipping in and out of the packinghouse and headquarters of Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. The trucks are proof that the company has become a major landmark in the sleepy grower town. Even the name, "Frostproof," bears witness to the success of the family-owned citrus operation, now run by Ben Hill Griffin IV, who goes by Hill.
Even from an early age, Hill was prepared to take over the family business. He started by working baby trees in the family's nurseries at the age of 11, after developing a natural interest in growing. "There was no family pressure, I could be whatever I wanted to be," he says. "But I found early on that I really like agriculture, and I like being outdoors. It evolved from there." Eventually, he was out in the groves learning the basics of citrus tree care, including planting, fertilizing, hoeing, and irrigating. The ground level training gave him a good foundation and taught him the benefits of hard work.
Today, Hill maintains his rich family tradition of growing the way "Old Florida" did, while always improving on it. He and his family continuously develop efficiencies and better technology to do so, but they do it without compromising the invaluable customs that took years to establish. They're not changing, they're improving. That's why he cultivates a balanced approach to his management style. "Being a citrus growerWant to show your support?
Post an orange in our virtual grove. is very complicated but it's also very simple," he says. "We're putting a round orange in a square box."
On the one hand, the packinghouse incorporates innovative technology such as a camera system that uses intricate grading software to shoot, evaluate, and sort each piece of fruit. On the other hand, he is adamant about keeping the human element as the finishing touch on his fruit.
Growing up as a fourth generation citrus grower on his father's side, and third generation on his mother's side, has taught Hill a deep love for the land. He prides his grove operation on environmental stewardship, as it helps to recharge the aquifer, generate oxygen, and provide a home for an abundance of wildlife. Many of the family's decisions in the groves are made to accommodate both the health of the citrus trees and the land they grow from. After all, their land is what he considers the best place in the world to grow fruit. "We are very fortunate to grow Florida orangesIs Your Juice Imported?
Find out where your juice comes from. because our climate, soil types, and abundant sunshine produce the best quality citrus in the world. It is just plain rewarding to produce a healthy and delicious citrus crop from the soil every year." As he and his wife, Pia, grow their family, he hopes to harvest many more crops to come.
So what's the biggest family secret to staying successful in the citrus business? "My grandfather and father taught me early on that as a citrus grower, there will be good years and not so good years. High fruit prices followed by low prices, pest and disease challenges, etc. Every year will be different. Perseverance is part of the job description."
From the looks of all the Griffin Green that can be seen in and around the area, their perseverance is paying off quite nicely.