North Carolina People, Places, and Things-March 1
I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.
In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.
I coached my first game as a college head coach in a basketball tournament called the Mount Olive Pickle Classic. I was technically the assistant coach at East Carolina University and we put together a J.V. Team at the last minute to play in Mt. Olive’s tournament. At that point in time (1976) Mt. Olive was a two year school. The tournament games were played at North Duplin HS since the college at that time did not have an adequate gym.
Photo below is of North Duplin HS
Mount Olive North Carolina is synonymous with pickles. Specifically the Mt. Olive Pickle Company. The town even celebrates New Year’s Eve with a pickle drop.
Located at the corner of Cucumber and Vine Street, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company has grown to be the largest independent pickle company in the United States.
In 1926, Shickrey Baddour, a Lebanese immigrant, founded Mt. Olive Pickle Company for the sole purpose of brining cucumbers that would later be sold to pickling plants. Baddour enlisted George Moore, who worked in the Castle Hayne pickle plant, as his business partner. However, Mt. Olive failed to generate sufficient profits to be sustainable. So, the company focused exclusively on pickling.
The company started with 3,600 square feet and $19,500 in capital and only thirty seven shareholders. Moore was the acting factory superintendent and Baddour the salesman.
When it comes to innovation in business and research, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company has thrived. In 1943, it was one of the first companies in the country, to offer profit sharing plans to their employees. In 1959, Mt. Olive established an employee community fund that helped support local community organizations.
Today, Mt. Olive is the largest privately held pickle company in the United States. Operating on 117 acres, its facilities include about 900,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space and a yard with 1,100 fiberglass tanks that can store more than 40 million pounds of cucumbers. It employs about 500 people year round, adding another 300 to 350 during the summer, when production is ramped up as large volumes of cucumbers are harvested.
Mt. Olive pickles can be found in their distinct yellow and green jars in all fifty states and has become the largest privately held pickle company and the best selling pickle brand in the country.
This past year Mt. Olive celebrated it’s 50th year of sponsoring the Pickle Classic a Men’s Basketball Tournament for NCAA Division II teams. I’m happy that I got to participate in that tournament.