Natural Resources & Agriculture
CEO Lee Thomas’ Rayonier owns almost half a million acres
in Florida. [Photo: Rayonier]
Looking out over the St. Johns River from his high-rise office on North Laura Street in Jacksonville, Lee Thomas
, chairman, president and CEO of Rayonier (Public No. 42), presides over a global business that encompasses around 2.4 million acres of timberland, including 425,000 acres in Florida, a major manufacturing operation and a real estate subsidiary. In addition to growing trees for pulp, the company makes cellulose and fiber products that go into everything from toothpaste to flat-screen televisions. Rayonier, which operates as a real estate investment trust, exports about 65% of its “dissolving pulp” products. Thomas, who headed the EPA from 1985-89 under President Ronald Reagan, has helped steer Rayonier in a progressive direction environmentally; the company’s mill in Fernandina Beach burns almost no fossil fuels, using its own wood waste byproducts and other biomass. Raynonier’s forests meet Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards. The company makes some of its property available to the public for hunting and other recreational uses.
» A. Duda and Sons
A. Duda & Sons Vice President Tracy Duda Chapman served on the Environmental Regulation Commission during Jeb Bush’s tenure as governor. [Photo: Brian Smith]
(Private No. 61) has evolved from a celery farm in the 1920s into a multifaceted, six-state agricultural operation that produces cattle and grows crops ranging from radishes to lettuce, citrus and sod. The company, based in Oviedo, also operates processing plants that produce beverages and canned and frozen vegetables and fruit for the food service industry. Additionally, Duda has become an agricultural broker and real estate developer, creating the town of Viera on some of its land in Brevard County. Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, the company is headed by President and CEO Joseph Duda
. General counsel and corporate Vice President Tracy Duda Chapman
is one of the most powerful women in an operating position in Florida agriculture and served on the state’s Environmental Regulation Commission during Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration. The company has won praise for how it manages its migrant/seasonal workforce and for its willingness to address environmental issues.
» Florida Crystals (Private No. 6), the Palm Beach County sugar producer, has long been a major player on the business and political scene, both in Florida and nationally. Owned by the Fanjul family, headed by brothers Alfonso “Alfy” Fanjul and Jose “Pepe” Fanjul, the firm grows, refines, packages and distributes sugar under several brands, including an organic line. It has developed one of the largest biomass energy plants in the world, burning wood waste and leftover cane fiber to power its sugar operations and some 60,000 homes. The company is also developing an “inland port” warehousing and distribution center in partnership with the Port of Palm Beach
OUT-OF-STATE FIRMS: In 2009, Seattle-based Plum Creek passed St. Joe to become the largest landowner in Florida, owning around 600,000 acres spanning parts of 22 counties. The company’s primary focus is on growing and harvesting timber, but Plum Creek’s southern director, Todd Powell, is helping to develop an inland port east of Lake City and a 2,000-acre, 177-home development and nature preserve in Gadsden County. — Mark Howard