Ben Adams (1926)
Born in 1926 in Deland, Ben Adams graduated from Stetson University, earning a degree in accounting. In 1949 he moved to Winter Haven, Florida, where he was involved in teaching and fresh fruit production. Throughout his life he was involved in processing, marketing, and promoting Florida citrus.
Adams subsequently moved to Dade City where he became general manager of West Coast Growers Co-op. He later became executive vice president and general manager of Lykes Pasco Packing Co. There, he pioneered the “pounds solids” method of industry standards. This assured citrus growers and processors that they would be compensated fairly for their product after it was pooled into the tanks.
Returning to Winter Haven in 1969, he became president and general manager of Adams Packing Association. Three years later, the company was purchased by Royal Crown Cola Company. He retired as president of Adams Packing in 1978, and became chief executive officer of Gapway Groves Corporation, a division of the Adams Company.
In the mid-1970s, he convinced the federal government to ease the obstacles to export grapefruit juice to Japan. President Richard Nixon appointed him to the Farm Credit Banks in Columbia, South Carolina, where he served as chairman.
Throughout his life Adams was committed to educating the general public of Florida citrus industry’s vital role within the state, national and global economies. He also oversaw the feasibility, design, and construction of one of the industry’s first tank farms for storage and distribution of orange juice concentrate. The 100,000 gallon tanks replaced fifty-five gallon drums as the primary vehicle for transporting juice.
Adams served as the director of Florida Citrus Mutual, the first chairman and co-founder of the Citrus Industry Council and former chairman of the industry’s Harvesting Committee. In addition, Adams was on the first committee responsible for getting orange juice added to the school lunch program. He was chair of the finance committee of the Board of Trustees of Winter Haven Hospital. The Polk County Hospital in Bartow was on the verge of closing when he became the first chairman of the board. His leadership prevented the closing of the institution. His other civic activities include work on the Gulf Ridge Council of Boy Scouts. He was also on the Board of Directors for the Florida Citrus Commission and was the chairman of the Citrus Industrial Council. He also served as president of the Florida Canners Association, and was a member of the board of directors of Barnett Banks of Polk County. Florida Southern College awarded him with the outstanding Citrus Award for his work in the area.
Known for his low key personality, Adams was known for not taking his many accomplishments too seriously. Adams shared his sentiments regarding his induction to the Citrus Hall of Fame in 1996 to a Lakeland Ledger reporter, “You don’t ask for recognition. You just do things as you go through life, and you have fun doing it.”