Chalmers Carr may be a first-generation farmer, but he has accomplished quite a bit since the time he began growing vegetables and peaches in Florida in 1990.
Now president and CEO of Titan Farms, Ridge Spring, S.C., Carr said he came to South Carolina from Florida in 1995 to manage a farm that he began to lease in 1999 and then purchased in 2004.
“I took over a 1,500-acre peach farm and grew it into about 6,200 acres of peaches and about 1,500 acres of vegetables over the course of 18 years,” he said.
Fueled by an emphasis on taste and quality, Carr’s Titan Farms has averaged about 20% growth each year.
Carr believes the farm can continue to expand, even with the challenges of finding farm labor. Titan Farms employs about 60 full-time employees and about 700 part-time employees at summer’s peak.
He loves the life of a grower along with wife Lori Anne.
“We are ‘all in’ as a husband and wife team and every dollar we reinvest back into business,” he said, noting that when the farm started, harvest was active just 16 weeks a year.
“Now we are harvesting and packing nearly year-round,” he said. “It is somewhat addicting, and it becomes a driver in your life, and it’s a great quality of life,” he said.
Carr is an extraordinary leader, with a rare combination of extreme passion for the business coupled with compassion for his team, said Don Goodwin, president of Golden Sun Marketing, Minnetrista, Minn.
“His leadership on immigration reform is part smart business and part his unending support for those who immigrate here to work at Titan Farms,” he said. “He has a had a fully legal work force for over 15 years.”
Goodwin has worked with Carr for the past six years as a marketing consultant.
“He is boldly courageous and pursues a vision that serves both the industry as a whole and the interest of his company,” Goodwin said. “He often speaks of how we can all work together to raise consumption of fresh peaches.”
Carr believes Titan Farms will become a national player in fruit and vegetable distribution and processing and continue to be a strong player regionally.
In addition to packing and marketing its vegetables and peaches, the company completed its vertical integration in 2016 by building an IQF plant to process peaches. Carr plans to add other IQF processing lines to the business, perhaps including apples, blueberries and vegetables.
Carr said he will continue to lobby for immigration reform that will work for growers.
“I have been an advocate for immigration reform for over 18 years,” he said, noting that he has lobbied to and testified before Congress on the issue.
Carr, a member of the United Fresh Produce Association’s government relations council, also is president of a national organization for H-2A employers called USA Farmers.