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Royster Clark, Inc.

This page given by the Tobacco Farm Life Museum at the Excellence in Agriculture Dinner on November 22,2002, honoring the outstanding contributions of our agri-business community.

Royster Clark Inc. has a rich and diverse history dating back for over a century. In 1885, Frank S. Royster launched a fertilizer business in Tarboro, North Carolina, that produced 250 tons of fertilizer in the first year. Within four years, the company had grown considerably and Mr. Royster moved his main office to Norfolk, Virginia. With increasing sales over the next decade and a diversification in products, the company updated its name to F. S. Royster Guano Company in 1912. By 1967, the company was producing fertilizer at nineteen factories in fourteen states with a work force of 1,500. In 1968, the company changed its name again to the shortened Royster Company. Shares of Royster Company began trading publicly in 1975.

In 1979, because of a sharp fall off in earnings, Royster Company announced a reorganization that included closing two of its factories and reducing its work force to 1,050 people. The changes were not enough to secure the company's finances however, and in 1980, Universal Leaf Tobacco Company Inc. of Richmond bought Royster Company from the shareholders. This sale was the beginning of several changes in ownership through the early 1990's.

After four years, Universal Leaf sold its Royster Company holdings to the Superfos Group of Denmark. Then in 1987, Superfos sold Royster Company to Cedar Holdings Inc., a Connecticut-based investment company. In May 1992, the Royster Company merged with W. S. Clark to form Royster Clark Inc. The newly formed business re-established its headquarters in Tarboro and began a new period of growth which included purchases from Lebanon, IMC Agribusiness, Alliance, ACS, and others. In 1999, Royster Clark Inc. moved its home office from Tarboro to Virginia.

Royster Company purchased the Wilson location in 1939 and operated it under the name of Contentnea Guano Company. In 1972, Royster Company discontinued the Contentnea name but retained the property through their sell-outs and mergers afterward. Today, along with their role as part of Royster Clark, the Wilson location also supports the local community by helping the Young Farmers Association, local business, schools, churches, fire departments, rescue squads, and the police department.

Royster Clark as a whole now boasts nearly 2,000 full-time associates, over 300 retail farm markets, eleven distribution centers, forty-two fertilizer terminals, and six granulation plants. Located in twenty-three states, Royster-Clark is one of the largest independent distributors of fertilizer, crop protection and seeds in the United States.

The years have brought many changes in the fertilizer industry and those at Royster Clark still strive to provide quality service and products to their customers who continue to till the soil.

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