ST. MATTHEWS – An Orangeburg-based seed production company announced Tuesday it is expanding its services in Calhoun County.

Mixon Seed Service, Inc. has purchased St. Matthews-based L.B. Wannamaker Seed Company.

“We are excited,” Mixon Seed Service Inc. President Robert Etheridge said during a Tuesday ceremony celebrating the purchase. “It is a neat honor to be able to carry on two stored companies that have been in the state over 150 years.

“We are happy to be able to carry that forward.”

As part of the transaction, Mixon Seed will invest about $750,000 over the next five years and create 10 new jobs at its new St. Matthews operation on Mill Street.

The investment will be in facility and equipment upgrades with an eye to increasing capacity.

People are also reading…

The St. Matthews plant will focus on cover crop seed production, as well as wildlife blend retail and sales.

The Mixon Seed Service name will continue to be used, although the wildlife seed retail and sales office will be named the Southland Wildlife.

Mixon Seed currently has three employees in Calhoun County and 32 total. The company’s headquarters are in Orangeburg. It also has a facility in Newton, Georgia.

Regional business, government and agriculture officials were in attendance Tuesday to celebrate the expansion.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing a $150,000 grant to help with the expansion.

“It is exciting and satisfying to have this business continue under the guidance of Robert Etheridge and Mixon Seed,” Wannamaker Seed Co. owner Luther Wannamaker said.

Etheridge said both businesses have been, “high touch, high service, high trust.”

“What we are going to do in Mixon Seed going forward is we are going to take that spirit of innovation and best practices and build it into a regional company that is a regional player across the South going forward,” he said.

Etheridge said Mixon will focus on a few areas going forward such as climate smart agriculture and sequestering carbon.

“Cover crops are a key tool in doing that,” Etheridge said. “We are making an investment here and in some other places where we are investing in infrastructure, in the people and the know-how to really bring those cover crops to the state and to the region at a scale that will take it.”

Etheridge said the company will also focus on wildlife space.

“We see the investment in recreational properties continuing,” Etheridge said. “We think that is a viable space. Certainly land preservation and particularly farm land preservation is going to be an ever-increasing focus for us in the state. We are excited about the growth prospects we’ve got.”

Etheridge thanked Clemson and South Carolina State universities as resources for new innovations and technology.

S.C. Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers noted agribusiness is the largest contributor to the state’s economy.

Agribusiness contributes about $51 billion to the state’s economy and employs nearly 260,000 people, he said.

Weathers praised Wannamaker’s forethought and innovation, saying it’s helped local farmers through the years.

“That is really a foundation of the great agriculture that goes on here and now. Mixon Seed will continue that,” Weathers said. “Congratulations to Mixon Seed. Mr. Luther, congratulations. I know you are excited to see your lifelong work continue.”

Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, said, “This is truly what South Carolina is.

“This is the essence of who we are in South Carolina. As far as I am concerned, that is the way we always need to keep it. We are an agricultural state.”

Mixon Seed’s expansion is, “sustaining the legacy of South Carolina,” Ott said.

Ott said Tuesday’s announcement is based on trust.

“We are transitioning today,” Ott said.

Wannamaker is trusting that his family seed company will continue to live on under Mixon Seed, Ott said. “It requires trust to know that those names, those legacies have been built and carried on in a manner in which they can continue to be proud.”

Calhoun County Administrator John McLauchlin thanked Etheridge and the Mixon family for investing in the county, and the Wannamaker family for its role in the county over the years.

“Keeping it in the agribusiness community and keeping the community happy with products nearby is great,” McLauchlin said.

Mixon Seed was founded in 1973 by Danny Mixon.

During the early days of Mixon Seed, Mixon would visit 15 to 20 customers daily, covering 300 miles.

The company provides seed varieties for wildlife and cover crop blends.

The company has distribution centers in Orangeburg and Newton, Georgia.

The company produces over 1.1 million bags of seed annually.

The Wannamaker family’s roots go all the way back to the year 1732 in what’s now Calhoun County.

After the Civil War, a group of men from Orangeburg and what is now Calhoun County were leaders in advocating for the creation of Clemson College and a more scientific approach to agriculture.

John Wannamaker from St. Matthews was especially prominent in this group. He was the first chairman of the board of Clemson and the first lifetime trustee, serving from 1888 to 1935.

The development of better varieties of farm crops, especially cotton, through seed breeding and research into fertilizers were Wannamaker’s two major concerns as a member of the Clemson board.

John’s son, John E. Wannamaker, was a pioneer in soybeans and is credited with bringing harvestable soybeans to the South.

St. Matthews-area farmer W.W. Wannamaker admired his cousin John and wanted to keep the business going.

Whit Wannamaker, W.W. Wannamaker’s oldest son, studied at Clemson and returned home to concentrate on growing cotton, cotton seed breeding and selling cotton seed. This gave birth to the Wannamaker seed enterprises in about 1916.

After World War I, Whit was joined by his two brothers, Treutlin and Banks, in a family partnership. In the 1930s, the business became two separate entities: W.W. Wannamaker Seed and L.B. Wannamaker Seed.

Banks Wannamaker founded the L.B. Wannamaker Seed Company in 1936. The production and marketing of cotton seed was his principal business.

In 1966, his son, Luther, joined his father and concentrated on soybean seed.

Luther contacted all the various Southern soybean breeders and selected, produced and marketed a stream of soybean varieties to Southern farmers.

In 1988, L.B. Wannamaker Seed expanded to Japan where it sold many varieties of soybean including the large Black Tamba, the so-called “King of Soybeans” that is a popular dish for Japanese New Year’s celebrations.

In 2005, the business was changed to focus on wildlife enhancement. The company serves both large plantations interested in quail, wild turkeys and ducks and deer hunters who want to provide high-protein food plots year-round.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

#lee-rev-content { margin:0 -5px; } #lee-rev-content h3 { font-family: inherit!important; font-weight: 700!important; border-left: 8px solid var(–lee-blox-link-color); text-indent: 7px; font-size: 24px!important; line-height: 24px; } #lee-rev-content .rc-provider { font-family: inherit!important; } #lee-rev-content h4 { line-height: 24px!important; font-family: “serif-ds”,Times,”Times New Roman”,serif!important; margin-top: 10px!important; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #lee-rev-content h3 { font-size: 18px!important; line-height: 18px; } } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article { clear: both; background-color: #fff; color: #222; background-position: bottom; background-repeat: no-repeat; padding: 15px 0 20px; margin-bottom: 40px; border-top: 4px solid rgba(0,0,0,.8); border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(0,0,0,.2); display: none; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article, #pu-email-form-daily-email-article p { font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, “Segoe UI”, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article h2 { font-size: 24px; margin: 15px 0 5px 0; font-family: “serif-ds”, Times, “Times New Roman”, serif; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .lead { margin-bottom: 5px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-desc { font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 5px; opacity: 0.7; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 30px 5px 30px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer { opacity: 0.5; margin-bottom: 0; line-height: 100%; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer a { color: #222; text-decoration: underline; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-hammer { border-bottom: 3px solid #222; opacity: .5; display: inline-block; padding: 0 10px 5px 10px; margin-bottom: -5px; font-size: 16px; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 0 5px 0; } } .grecaptcha-badge { visibility: hidden; }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>