Perdue AgriBusiness buys two grain elevators on Virginia’s Eastern Shore
PARKSLEY, Va. — Perdue AgriBusiness has purchased two grain elevators on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A Perdue spokesperson confirmed the purchase of Associated Grain’s Parksley and Exmore facilities.
The sale was first reported by Shore Daily News on May 12.
“We recognize the important role the grain elevators have in the agriculture community on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Perdue has been part of the local farm community for more than four decades and we look forward to building upon that relationship and continuing to provide local farmers an outlet for their grains.”
Richard Lewis, the president of Associated Grain and its third generation owner, said he had put off the sale for several years but looking at the grain market outlook for the year it was going to take at least twice as much money to purchase farmers’ grain and at age 67, he decided that the timing was right to sell.
“Margins are tight. It takes a lot of money to be in this business,” Lewis said. “If you’re not one of the big boys, it can be very tough.”
Lewis added he will remain as a consultant to Perdue during the transition. Associated Grain also had nine employees. While transitioning out of the grain business, Lewis said he’s not fully retiring, with rental properties and a construction equipment rental business to manage.
“I have the next chapter, it’s just going to be a lot less stressful,” he said.
This year marked the 100th year of continuous operation for Associated Grain, which began in 1921 as Lewis and Middleton. Then it focused on buying and brokering produce and selling agricultural inputs.
As the region’s poultry industry expanded in the 1940s, the partners supplied poultry feed and other services as Delmarva Feed Co.
In the 1950s, it added poultry production and grain marketing and handling to is services through Parksley Grain Co.
In 1958, W.R. Lewis, Jr., who had been associated with the business for nine years, purchased his father’s and Middleton’s interests in the business.
In June 1967, the business was merged with Holly Farms Poultry, Inc. of Wilkesboro, N.C., according to business’s website and in 1978 the Parksley facility was re-acquired by W.R. Lewis, Jr., and reorganized as Associated Farms, Inc.
Third-generation owner Richard Lewis joined the company in 1980 when the company had 84,000-bushel capacity at its Parksley facility.
After acquiring the Exmore facility 1985 and other expansions, the company reached a capacity of 1.5 million bushels of grain storage, Lewis said.
Prior to the sale, Lewis said Associated Grain was the last independent grain facility in Virginia that was solely focused on grain handling.
“I’m the last grain elevator where that’s all we do,” he said. “The ag community has been very good to my family.”