Phillip L. Herndon (1947-2001)
Alcoma Packing Company
Louis Dreyfus Citrus Company
Florida Citrus Mutual
National Juice Products Association
North American Free Trade Agreement
Phillip L. Herndon was born in Tampa, Florida, on June 4, 1947. As a young boy growing up in Lake Wales, he took a keen interest in business. He worked in his family’s citrus groves, learning the business first-hand. Herndon graduated from Lake Wales High School in 1965 and then attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Herndon majored in history and was president of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He enrolled in the University’s ROTC program and subsequently volunteered for the Vietnam War. After graduating from Washington and Lee in 1969 he attended Army Officer Candidate School. He deployed to Vietnam as a field artillery officer and was gravely wounded and was partially paralyzed due to broken vertebrae in his neck and back. He was awarded an Army Bronze Star for “Meritorious Achievement in Ground Operations Against Hostile Forces.” He spent many months rehabilitating in a military hospital and learned to walk again before being honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant.
He returned home to Lake Wales to work in the family business, the Alcoma Packing Company. Not long thereafter Herndon married Patricia Snively of Winter Haven. Alcoma grew citrus and processed orange juice and became a model processing plant. Herndon especially enjoyed educating visitors to the processing plant on 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 Company Citrus Inc. where he worked at the time of his death.
Herndon made many contributions to the citrus industry as a manager, consultant, and lifelong grower. In 1974 he became a certified product trader on 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. He served on the Florida Citrus Mutual Board of Directors from 1988-2001, and acted as its president from 1988-1990. He also served as a member of the Agriculture Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. In addition, he served as a director on the Sun Trust Bank Board for twenty-three years. As an expert on the citrus industry he was asked to be a guest lecturer 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.
Herndon was also a strong believer in civic responsibility. He served as a Lake Wales City Commissioner and also served various roles in the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Wales. He was active in the political process on behalf of Alcoma and the citrus industry to make sure elected representatives understood the industry so they would be able to make informed decisions. He was very familiar with Washington, DC where he testified before many congressional and government panels for the citrus industry and for the protection of the Florida ecosystem. In the 1980s his expert testimony helped secure and defend extensive anti-dumping measures against the Brazilian citrus industry. In the 1990s, his participation in negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement on behalf of Florida Citrus Mutual helped ensure the livelihood of the Florida citrus industry. His understanding of the industry and ability to mediate between various interests with differing objectives enabled him to secure the best deal for the Florida citrus industry.
Herndon was a great supporter of education and after his death an endowment, the Phillip L. Herndon Endowment in Economics, was founded in his honor at the University of Florida. The endowment supports graduate students studying citrus related economics in the Food and Resource Department.
It was a consensus among his peers that Herndon possessed one of the kindest hearts and sharpest minds in the industry.
He is survived by his widow, Patricia S. Herndon and children, Bradley Herndon, Susannah Peddie, and Scott Herndon.