Fertilizer Industry Leader Lauded for Lifetime of Achievement
When it comes to “Surviving Industry Storms” — the theme for Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association’s (FFAA) 86th Annual Meeting — Dennis Wedgworth has stories to tell. A fertilizer industry veteran of nearly 40 years, Wedgworth received the association’s highest recognition at its banquet, FFAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Honored as a visionary, a fierce, yet fair, competitor, an analytical businessman who puts customers and those he works with first, Wedgworth’s motto is summed up as: Good attitude — good results!
Wedgworth joined FFAA’s Board in 1984 on the recommendation of Ralph Graham. In his nomination letter, Graham noted Dennis “would add youth, intelligence, and leadership of new ideas.” Graham’s predictions certainly proved true.
Just three years later, Dennis was elected Chairman of the Board (from 1987 to 1988). During that time, and throughout his 33 years of leadership on the Board, he was influential in:
- Rebranding the association from the Florida Agricultural Research Institute to the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association.
- Selecting three executive directors.
- Implementing industry initiatives ranging from best management practices for bulk blend fertilizer facilities, to homeland security issues regarding secure storage and transportation of ammonium nitrate, to environmental protection in Florida fields through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program.
During his 33 years of service on the Board, Wedgworth was a consistent and staunch proponent of better sampling procedures and laboratory analysis of blended fertilizer loads.
During his nearly four decades of leadership, Wedgworth’s Inc. became the state’s largest fertilizer manufacturer, custom blending close to 350,000 tons per year of plant nutrition.
At the meeting, Board members re-elected to three-year terms included: Sygenta’s Jim Faircloth, Brandt’s Charles Lanfier, Griffin Fertilizer’s Mike Roberts, Mayo Fertilizer’s Keith Shaw, and Growers Fertilizer’s Brent Sutton. Helena’s John Baxter was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Wedgworth’s Acceptance Remarks
Nearly 40 years ago I hired Jimmy (Matthews) after a competitor hired our General Manager and only salesman. We were both in our 20s, with little fertilizer experience, given the task of running a struggling fertilizer company blending less than 30,000 tons. For the first decade, we barely kept our heads above water.
Least cost formulation was the mantra of the day … Florida was the dumping grounds for off-spec and distressed material. If it met the tag, it was good enough. We were in the business of selling cheap fertilizer….
It was in this environment that Jimmy and I decided to take a different path. Let’s sell quality, and service, and promote agronomics. Geez, what a novel idea. We weren’t alone in this effort. There were other companies who individually, and through this association, decided to chart a different course.
We’ve come a long way. This is an industry that I’m proud to be a part of.
My success is a product of the efforts and support of many of you in this room, this association, and my team at Wedgworth’s. For that I thank all of you.