Thomas Swann (1897-1977)
Florida Citrus Code
Florida Citrus Commission
Florida Citrus Mutual
Superior Fertilizer Co.
Thomas Burnett Swann was born in Dandridge, Tennessee, in 1897 and came to Florida in 1905. Serving in World War I as a pilot he also received degrees from Carson Newman College, University of Tennessee, and the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. Swann’s work in the citrus industry began in 1929 when he moved to Winter Haven and took over management of his family’s groves. Swann was one of the first advocates for increased cooperation and organization among the Florida citrus growers. His efforts led to the creation of the Florida Citrus Code and the Florida Citrus Commission. Governor David Sholtz appointed Swann to the first Florida Citrus Commission in 1935.
Swann’s primary contribution was to encourage greater cooperative efforts among growers to market their product. In 1947 Swann outlined some of the problems of the citrus industry of that time and his suggestions for improving the business. He wanted to make sure that all growers were producing and selling a product that met a high standard of quality so that the consumer would have a positive opinion of Florida citrus. He wanted fruit of good eating and acceptable appearance and quality. He also advocated for brand rather than commodity advertising.
His efforts for increased cooperation and organization helped the Florida citrus industry become the most successful in the country. He established a personal reputation for fairness, impartiality, honesty, and knowledge of the citrus industry. He also encouraged greater research and marketing campaigns for the industry. Swann was one of the organizers of the Florida Citrus Mutual and chairman of the citrus advisory committee. Swann also served as President and Director of the Superior Fertilizer Company, Trustee of Florida Presbyterian College in St Petersburg, Director and Member of the Executive Committee of General Telephone Company of Florida, Director of the Exchange National Bank of Winter Haven, and President of Winter Haven Hospital, with the major complex of that facility named in his honor. In 1962 Florida State University awarded Swann an honorary doctorate for his service to the citrus Industry.