When it comes to the importance of fertilizer to agribusiness, Tommy Dollar doesn’t mince words.
“Fertilizer is a key part of feeding the 7.3 billion people in the world, which is growing by 82 million people per year,” says Dollar, the CEO of Dollar Farm Products in Bainbridge. “It is key to all production of plants for human and animal consumption.”
Fertilizer, Families And Farms
Fertilizer is more than a business to Dollar; it’s a family passion. His grandfather, Joe Dollar, started Dollar Farm Products in 1939, and the Dollar family has enjoyed helping the Georgia farm community thrive for generations.
“We grew up in this business,” Dollar says. “We know our customers. We live here. We eat here. We bank here. We want and love for our customers to be profitable.”
Fertilizer has a wide customer base, from commercial farms to turfgrass businesses to golf courses and ornamental gardens. The type of fertilizer needed varies depending on the rates and uses, as well as crop use and location.
Land in the upper Midwest has more organic matter and heavier amounts of clay, which holds the nutrients supplied by fertilizer. Land in the southeast is sandier, has less organic matter and leaches more of the fertilizer out, so it has to be monitored more closely.
“Fertilizer is the key to maximum production of plants and plant mass, but there is a balance between cost and overapplying that would be wasteful,” Dollar says. That is what we, as agribusinesses, do: become educated on what plant needs which ingredient for a specific crop or specific type of dirt. It all comes from years of experience.”
The company celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014, and employs 41 people, including Robert Cohen and Todd Massey, who have been with the company for 53 and 16 years, respectively. Dollar’s son, Thomas Hubert (Hugh) Dollar III, has also joined the business.
“Years of fertilizer knowledge have been passed down through my grandfather, Joe Dollar, and father, Hubert Dollar,” Tommy Dollar says. “I need to pass that experience on to the next
generation and do my part in sustaining this legacy that has been going on since 1939.”
A Business And A Legacy
Mike Anderson is president of Bulloch Fertilizer, another Georgia-based company with a rich family legacy. Based in Statesboro, Bulloch Fertilizer opened shop in 1963, when Mike’s father, Raybon Anderson, built the business from the ground up with two partners.
Bulloch Fertilizer is the epitome of a family-run company. In fact, an early newspaper ad for the company ran the phone number for the Anderson’s home, which Raybon’s wife, Janelle, answered daily.
Mike Anderson says, “I really can’t remember not being involved in the business. My mom and dad both worked in the business when I was born and they always brought me to work.”
In the beginning, the company offered two main products: liquid nitrogen and liquid feed. In the first year, the company had approximately $100,000 in sales.
Bagged fertilizer and seed were added the second year of business. After 10 years of business, the company expanded into the agricultural chemical market. They continued to grow, and by the early 1990s, recognized an opportunity in the turfgrass market. Bulloch Fertilizer built a fertilizer-blending facility and began servicing area golf courses, sod farms and recreational facilities.
Anderson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1988, and began to work full time for the family business, which serves farmers in Bulloch and the surrounding counties. He was named company president in 1991.
These days, Bulloch Fertilizer caters to the turf market, including golf courses scattered throughout Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. The company also serves the lawn and garden market through bag fertilizer.
Bulloch Fertilizer has several employees who have been part of the business for many years.
“We are very blessed to have great employees who work together and treat each other like family,” Anderson says. “We absolutely could not do it without their dedication.”
Anderson says he hopes the business will thrive for years to come. “I would love to see our business continue to the next generation,” he says. “My wife, Vicki, and I have four boys, so hopefully that will happen.”