Phillip L. Herndon (1947-2001)
Alcoma Packing Company
Louis Dreyfus Citrus Company
Florida Citrus Mutual
National Juice Products Association
Anti-Industrial Waste Dumping
North American Free Trade Agreements
Phillip L. Herndon was born in Tampa, Florida, on June 4, 1947. As a young boy growing up in the country sixty miles east of Lake Wales, he took a keen interest in business. He also worked with his family’s citrus grows, learning the business first-hand. He learned everything he could and this combined with his academic skills enabled him to excel in school. Herndon graduated from Lake Wales High School in 1965, but one year before graduation Herndon attended Boys State.
Enrolling at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, Herndon majored in history and participated in the University’s ROTC program. He was president of the Sigma Nu fraternity, and graduated in 1969. Not long thereafter Herndon married Pattie Snively of Winter Haven and found work in his family’s packing plant. Not long after returning to Polk County Herndon entered the Vietnam War as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery Division. As a forward observer, Phillips was seriously wounded and was sent home, for which he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for bravery. He suffered from temporary paralysis as a result of a broken neck and back, but recovered and went to work in the family business. Upon his return Herndon and his wife raised three children Bradley P., Susana S., and W. Scott.
In 1972 Herndon began his twenty-five year career as Sales Manager of the family owned citrus growing and processing plant named Alcoma Packing Company in Lake Wales. After being promoted to Vice President, the plant became a model for citrus processing during his tenure. Herndon especially enjoyed educating hundreds of interested parties about the juice processing process in the hundreds of tours he gave over the years. He remained at the company for two years after it was sold in 1997 to Citrosuco of North America, a Brazilian company. Herndon eventually joined Louis Dreyfus Citrus Company in Winter Haven.
During his active life, Herndon made many contributions he made to the citrus industry as a manager, consultant, and lifelong grower. In 1974 he became a certified product trader of the New York Cotton Exchange and served 11 years with the board of directors of the Citrus Associates division, becoming the president of this group in 1995 to 1996. Having established himself on the financial side of the citrus industry, he joined Florida Citrus Mutual banks Board of Directors from 1988-2001, and acted as its president from 1988 until 1990. He also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and was a director on Sun Trust Banks Board for twenty three years. Having become an expert on the subject Herndon taught a course at Harvard University on citrus futures and options trading. From 1992 to 2001 he also served as director for the National Juice Products association and was its president from 1992-1993, in addition to having membership on the Farm Agricultural Round Table.
Herndon was a great mediator and a strong believer in civic responsibility. He contributed consistently to political campaigns, and became familiar with Washington where he worked tirelessly testifying before many congressional and government panels for the citrus industry and for the protection of the Florida ecosystem he had grown to love. In the 1980s his expert testimony helped secure and defend extensive anti-industrial waste dumping measures, something that very few other industry executives are known for in Florida. In the 1990s his participation in the North American Free Trade agreements on behalf of Florida Citrus Mutual Bank helped ensure the livelihood of the Florida Citrus industry. His understanding and ability to mediate between various parties in the citrus world amidst its economic complexities enabled him to secure the best prices for Florida citrus growers and renew hope for them at a time when Brazilian citrus crops were flooding the market and causing dismay to many Florida citrus farmers. Herndon was also active in politics at the local level. He served as one of Lake Wales’ youngest city commissioners and was a Chairman of his Church’s Board of Deacons at Lake Wales’ First Presbyterian Church.
Herndon was a special friend to education, having founded graduate a graduate scholarship in citrus related economics. It was a consensus among his peers that the Herndon possessed one of the kindest hearts and sharpest minds in the industry.