By Len Robbins
A new industry is opening in Homerville soon.
The Great American Cobbler Company has purchased the old Dole Berry Company/SunnyRidge building, and plans to start making blueberry, blackberry, peach and apple cobblers and chicken pot pies by the end of the year.
“We’re very excited about it,” said Russ Goodman of Clinch County, one of the local owners of the new business. “This is a great opportunity to invest in rural Georgia, help farmers in our area, help our citizens with jobs, and also realize a greater share of the retail dollar for the family farm.”
Goodman said they hope to start manufacturing in mid-December, with around 15-to-20 employees initially, growing to 30-to-50 employees eventually. They plan to produce two-pound and five-pound cobblers, using locally-grown blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, and chickens as much as possible in their products.
“All of our ingredients are going to be America-grown, and as much as possible, Georgia-grown,” said Goodman, a local berry farmer who was recently elected to the Georgia State Senate. “All of our (ownership) partners are Americans, from the area, and the majority of our partners are women.”
The ownership includes Goodman and his wife Carra; his in-laws, Johnny and Joy Crumbley; Goodman’s mother, Donna Kane; Ben & Tina Strickland; and Chris and Laura Huff.
The Stricklands are involved in blackberry farming in Lanier and Lowndes counties, while the Crumbleys and Goodmans, of Cogdell, are involved in farming operations in Clinch and Lanier counties. Chris Huff, of Waycross, has experience in the food manufacturing industry, and will oversee operations.
“This summer, I met him (Huff) while getting my truck serviced in Waycross,” Goodman said of the chance meeting. “He had already been making cobblers, had contacts in retail, and we had the raw product.”
From there, Goodman and Huff started working on the prospect of a business. The ownership group signed final paperwork for puchase of the old Dole Berry Center building, located on Highway 84 West, on Monday.
Goodman said the company will announce hiring plans at a later date.