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Mount Olive Pickle Company
Located at the corner of Cucumber and Vine Street, in Mount Olive, North Carolina, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company has grown to be the largest independent pickle company in the United States.
In 1926, Shickrey Baddour, a Lebanese immigrant, founded Mt. Olive Pickle Company for the sole purpose of brining cucumbers that would later be sold to pickling plants. Baddour enlisted George Moore, who worked in the Castle Hayne pickle plant, as his business partner. However, Mt. Olive failed to generate sufficient profits to be sustainable. So, the company focused exclusively on pickling.
The company started with 3,600 square feet and $19,500 in capital and only thirty seven shareholders. Moore was the acting factory superintendent and Baddour the salesman. The company had four operational guidelines: 1) provide customers with quality products, good value, and superior service, 2) earn shareholders a fair return on investment, 3) be an enterprising employer and 4) remain a valued corporate citizen.
When it comes to innovation in business and research, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company has thrived. In 1943, it was one of the first companies in the country, to offer profit sharing plans to their employees. In 1959, Mt. Olive established an employee community fund that helped support local community organizations. Mt. Olive, in 1969, became the first food processor to substitute sugar with high fructose corn syrup. The company was also the first to produce no-sugar-added sweet pickle products in 2002, when it started using Splenda brand sweetener.
Mt. Olive Company remains on the original property but now has 675,000 square feet of production, warehouse, and office space. Each year, the company uses over 130 million pounds of cucumbers and peppers and packs approximately 100 million jars a year of pickles, relishes, and peppers. Mt. Olive pickles can be found in their distinct yellow and green jars in all fifty states and has become the largest privately held pickle company and the best selling pickle brand in the country.
Year round, the company maintains about 500 employees and just over 800 employees during the summer, when their intake season is at its peak. On New Year’s Eve residents of Mt. Olive, attend the annual Pickle Drop. In the spring the community celebrates the N.C. Pickle Festival, where all the proceeds go to local charities. In 2006, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company celebrated 80 years of successful business.
Scott Dickson, In Search of Mayberry: A Guide to North Carolina’s Favorite Small Towns, (Boone, 2005); Mt. Olive Pickle Company, Inc., Mt. Olive 101, http://www.mtolivepickles.com/, (last accessed October 5, 2010); Mount Olive Pickle Company, Growing An American Tradition: Mt. Olive Pickle Company: 80 Years. (Mt. Olive, 2006); North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Products, Mt. Olive Pickle Company, http://www.ncagr.gov/, (last accessed October 5, 2010).
By Kellie Slappey, North Carolina History Project
Related Categories: Entrepreneurship