For more than 100 years, the Woerner family has successfully farmed North America's soils. Through the generations and changing times, the backbone of the Woerner family has been steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, and adherence to traditional values, work ethics, perseverance of goals, and ability to adapt. The family has prospered through good economic times and bad. Today, the vision of the Woerner family is dedicated to the production and sale of premium agricultural products and the development of new green technologies using the products that we produce.
For the landscaping industry we produce and deliver premium green lawn grasses both farm-direct and via our Woerner Landscape Source outlets. Woerner Landscape Source also offers a full array of environmentally friendly landscaping products including green shrubs, flowering plants, mulch, natural stone, brick paving stones, outdoor furniture and other complimentary products that provide our customers a convenient one-stop supply of virtually all their outdoor needs.
Woerner Companies are also producing test crops of sugar cane, sweet sorghum, energy beets and other crops for use in alternative energy development. We are involved intimately with the development of an advanced biofuel production plant in Highlands County, Florida, and an energy beets plant in Alabama for production of sugar-based and methane energy.
In all of the companies’ endeavors, we are ever mindful of and devoted to our responsibility to helping spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth.
The Woerner family traces its history back to Fred George Woerner who was born in Carlstadt, New Jersey on May 26, 1885 to immigrant German parents. While still a baby, Fred and his family moved back to their German homeland. At age seventeen, Fred returned to America, settling in New York City. There he met, fell in love and on May 21, 1914, married Emma Brumm. After seeing an advertisement of land for sale in South Alabama, Fred and Emma agreed that the terms were good and that the area’s salt air and pine trees would be good for Emma’s asthma. They put a down payment of $200 on 80 acres in Baldwin County, Alabama and, in 1915, moved to Elberta, to begin their new life.
In the tradition of the time, Fred and Emma raised a large family of 17 children who shared both the work and the fruit of the family dairy farm. In spite of the hard times brought on with the Great Depression, the family grew and prospered. From oldest to youngest the children: (Emma, Albert, John, Karl, Gertrude, Gustave, Elizabeth, Fred, Jr., Paul, Edward, Oscar, Herbert, Martha, Agnes, Otto, Ralph, and Carolyn) learned to support each other, to share both feast and famine and to trust in the Lord.
As the children grew older and began their separate lives, Edward James Woerner, along with brothers, Paul and Karl, started a new farm partnership. Edward J. Woerner married Lillie Louise and together raised six sons (Edward E., Larry, Norman, George, Lester and Roger) and 2 daughters (Deborah and Kathy). After the tragic death of their brother Paul, Edward and Karl divided and established separate farming operations. When the oldest son, Eddie, reached his late teens, Edward J. began farming with his sons.
Originally a partnership, Edward J. Woerner and his six sons formed the corporation, Edward J. Woerner and Sons, Inc. In the beginning the farming operation produced grain, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, field corn, watermelons, soybeans, wheat, oats, broccoli and Irish potatoes. By the mid-1970's, the farm had expanded its operations to almost 2000 acres of produce, grain and cattle and was continuing to grow. In December 1977, Magnolia Farm was purchased to further increase production. Woerner Produce, Inc., was incorporated on August 02, 1984 to improve marketing opportunities for the farm’s produce. This new approach to marketing, Edward E. (Eddie Boy)’s invention of a machine capable of chilling corn, and other farming and marketing innovations were key factors for the Company’s survival in this time of high farm failures.
While the Company made significant strides in improving production and marketing, the tragic effects of hurricanes, droughts, floods, freezes, and economic inflationary prices were beyond the control of management. Traditional grain and produce farming was just not profitable enough to sustain the operations as comprised. With such fluctuating weather and market conditions, the family decided to experiment with other products and business ventures.
In a momentous decision, E.J. Woerner and Sons, Inc. planted 5 acres of St. Augustine and 5 acres of Centipede grass on the Magnolia Farm in Clearsprings, Alabama. These 10 acres of grass were successful and the Company increased turf acreage. As the turf grass market demand increased, the Company acquired more land for turf production and the Magnolia Farm changed from corn and cattle farming to sod production. Clearly the fortunes of E.J. Woerner and Sons, Inc. had improved and the future of the company was becoming clear.
While Woerner Produce was struggling through the economic ups and downs of the produce business, the Woerner Turf Division of E.J. Woerner & Sons, Inc., was formed and thrived. The first nursery outlet was established in Pensacola, Florida in 1979. The outlet proved to be an excellent means of distributing small orders of sod to the market. Truckloads of sod were purchased from the Magnolia farm at wholesale and re-sold it to landscapers and residential homeowners at retail. This successful Pensacola sod outlet was just the beginning of the Company’s venture into the retail business.
With the increasing success of the sod business and the continuing struggle of the produce business, the focus of E.J. Woerner & Son shifted away from producing a variety of produce crops, to developing a premium quality sod-producing corporation. In 1987, Woerner Produce was dissolved as this third generation of the Woerner family adapted to its new role as a leading sod producer in South Alabama.
With the dissolution of Woerner Produce, Inc., the resources previously employed in growing and marketing produce were sold or converted into turf production and distribution. E.J. Woerner & Sons and its successor companies began to expand its territory with additional farm locations and sod outlet locations. In succeeding years new farms acquired in Baldwin County, Alabama; in Calhoun County, Alabama; Highlands County, Indian River County and Calhoun County, Florida; Ascension and Assumption Parishes, Louisiana; and Weld County Colorado. In 1990 a transportation company was formed to insure the farm’s ability to make prompt deliveries. Gulf South Transportation continues to serve our farms and customers from its Summerdale, Alabama location.
In an effort to reach additional customers and to provide customers the ability to pick-up sod in smaller quantities, more retail outlets were established. Under the Corporate identity, Woerner Landscape Source, Inc., using the Pensacola Outlet as a successful pattern, additional outlets have been established and continue to operate in Mobile, Alabama; Fort Walton Beach, Florida; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Birmingham, Alabama. The Company plans to open additional sod outlets in the future. These Company-owned outlets along with an assortment of wholesale arrangements in other locations allow for individuals to purchase small to medium-size grass orders. In addition to sod, company outlets are now supplying other landscape materials such as natural cypress mulch, colored hardwood mulch, pine straw, centipede seed, landscape stone and an assortment of other landscape products. Woerner Companies also operates additional retail/wholesale locations near the Roggen, CO. farm and Hawaii locations to serve customers on site for sod pick-ups.
Woerner has been producing its “Gulf Kist” centipede seed since 1985 and has become a major supplier of both wholesale and retail centipede and centipede blend seeds.
Woerner has become a leading sod supplier in the Southeast by locating farms and outlets convenient to market and by providing outstanding service to its customers. This successful regional experience has lead to a national expansion strategy. Extensive market research has led to establishment of farms in Colorado and Hawaii in January 2000 with long-range plans for further expansion.
Woerner's competitive edge in the turf industry is a result of producing quality products using unique production techniques developed over many years, an experienced sales staff providing valuable information and service to customers, and outstanding delivery service via its own transportation company.
While investment in land is a necessity to provide the resources for the sod operations, it also is an investment in the growth of the area it serves. As the area matures, the highest and best use of the land may change from farming to development. The Woerner Companies continue to acquire property used in the farming operations, and there are on-staff personnel researching, planning and implementing development plans to maximize the value of the investments. The company vision is to use its resources wisely for the benefit of the communities in which we live. It is our goal that we improve the value and utility of the assets with which we have been entrusted, and that we improve the quality of life of the people affected by our decisions.
The Woerner Companies shareholders, George A. Woerner and Allen Woerner, stress the active participation of the companies’ employees in important community events such as The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and other civic and charitable activities. Woerner awards annual scholarships to college-bound students and sponsors Marriage Encounter programs to help heal husbands and wives' relationships with the help of Jesus Christ. Several of the Company’s personnel serve on civic boards and in community organizations whose objectives are to provide service to the community. The company supports many school and youth activities financially and by active participation. The Company takes its role as a good corporate citizen very seriously.