It has been such a very long time ago that my personal journey began in the citrus industry. There have been a tremendous number of changes, improvements with both happy and sad memories intertwined. That said, I would like to share at least a few memories with our current and future customers. While I am neither a Mark Twain nor John Steinbeck, I trust a look back will be of interest to a few of you.
1950 YearMy life began in Winter Haven, Florida. My father was employed in the very industry I would come to know and appreciate from a personal, as well as, industry perspective. Back in my days in Florida, it was proudly said, “Citrus is King.” Our Sunshine state has been a major producer of citrus products, offering some of the best orange and grapefruit juice for a very long time.
1970 YearIn 1970, there was a position in accounting at Golden River Packing Company in Winter Beach, Fl., just north of Vero Beach. I was hired in September 1970 and worked through June 1971. As a seasonal employee, I was waiting for the Fall crop of Orange and Grapefruit harvesting and processing to begin in 1971. What a surprise to learn that George S. Lambeth, Jr. had purchased the facility from the current owners while on a fishing trip in the Bahamas! Lucky me, I was offered the same position with the new owner, Mr. George Lambeth, Jr.
1986 YearIn 1986 George sold the facility to Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. to complete a package for them as part of a larger citrus operation which included a processing plant. I remained with the facility for the next thirteen years.
1995 YearIn 1995, I was fortunate enough to take an early retirement from Ocean Spray and come home to Golden River Packing Co. at the new location. It was my good fortune to be asked to come on board with the juice operation apart from the other business entities Mr. Lambeth operated. Lambeth Groves was his next vision.
2002 YearIn 2002, a group of leading juice professionals purchased the offices and processing facilities known as Lambeth Groves Juice. There have been many additional product lines added to the portfolio, facility expansions and improvements over the years. This collection of professionals came together to combine their knowledge and passion of the industry to pursue one common goal - to make the best, freshest tasting juice.
I have been blessed to continue in good health and become heavily involved in our growth plans. I’ve met so many wonderful people and corporate connections through my association with citrus. So many have gone before to pave the way, which contributes to our ever expanding customer base. What a wonderful experience it has been and continues to be.
I am happy to say that Mr. Lambeth and his family still remain part of the citrus industry. George tells me that sighting the Lambeth brand name in various places as he and Mrs. Lambeth travel makes him smile.
It makes us all smile too!
1946 YearGeorge Lambeth, Sr. purchased his first his first grove in 1946. His son, George Lambeth. Jr, was quickly integrated into the world of Citrus while working through high school and college with his father maintaining the groves.
1955 YearGeorge Lambeth, Jr. had graduated from University of Florida with a degree in Science of Agriculture and purchased his first 40 acre grove. Being quite a visionary, George Jr. was inclined to vertically integrate himself and his business model into every aspect of Florida citrus. Over the next several years, George Jr. became a leader in growing, packing, transporting and selling fresh Florida citrus, both domestically and overseas.
1971 YearHis packaging house, Golden River Packing Company, employed over 350 Floridians, becoming a large supplier of fruit to the Japanese market. Recognizing that the Japanese strived for a state of the art “White Glove” approach to facility modernization, George Jr. began upgrading his old, existing packing houses to Florida’s biggest and best.
1994 YearGeorge Jr. was very committed to supporting the local Florida citrus industry. He owned a retail catalog gift fruit store in Sebastian, a city in Indian River County, Florida. At the store they packed Florida citrus gift baskets to ship to residents throughout the USA, as well as, squeezed fresh orange and grapefruit juice on-site for local consumers. Using a FMC Juicer, George’s team would squeeze and bottle approximately 1,000 gallons of juice per day. George’s freshly squeezed juice became widely known throughout Florida.
1995 YearBeing an idealist by nature, he outsourced Graphic Designer, Eileen Bechtold, to help brand his vision, Lambeth Groves – From Grove to Glass. Once the Lambeth Groves brand gained traction, they outgrew production at the retail store, and Golden River Fruit Co. built, owned, and operated a new custom packing and juicing house. The property sat on 280 acres of orange groves and housed George’s first Citrus Juice Extractor.
2002 Year- PresentToday, United Juice Company, owns and operates this facility, proudly promoting George Lambeth’s vision - “From Grove to Glass”- with every gallon of juice we ship to your kitchen.