The History of Leon Farmer and Company
The corporation was chartered on September 4, 1948 as Premium Distributing Company.
H. Leon “Sarge” Farmer became the sole stockholder and President on May 10, 1956 and H. Leon Farmer, Jr. was elected Vice President and Eloise H. Farmer, Secretary-Treasurer. The company was appointed Anheuser-Busch wholesaler in Northeast Georgia for the sale of Budweiser and Michelob beers on July 1, 1958. During the first year, sales were 150,000 cases, and share of market was 26%.
Michelob bottles were introduced in December 1961, and Busch beer followed in March 1962. The company purchased its first forklift and side-loaded palletized beer trucks in 1965. Prior to that time pallets were non-existent, so receipts on rail cars were unloaded by hand using tracks with rollers, hand trucks, and dollies.
Leon Farmer, Jr. was elected Executive Vice President effective October 1, 1967, and he acquired ownership in the corporation on September 1, 1968.
The corporation purchased its first computer in 1974, which was a great help in accounting for and reporting state and local taxes. Leon Farmer was honored at the 1976 Anheuser-Busch Sales Meeting in Atlanta for his years of contribution to the beer industry and for service to his community.
Natural Light was introduced in April 1977, and Michelob Light’s debut was in February 1978.
Leon Farmer, Jr. served five years as a member of the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Advisory Panel from January 1974 to January 1979. Leon served two years as Chairman, 1976 & 1977, and one year as Past Chairman, 1978. In 1978, for the first time, the company’s annual sales exceeded one million cases. The company’s Controlled Environment Warehouse (CEW) was installed in 1978 and was fully operational by February of 1979.
It was a sad day in the history of Leon Farmer and Company when Leon Farmer passed away on January 4, 1987. His shoes will never be filled and his accomplishments will never be matched, but wonderful memories of “Sarge” will always live on in the hearts of those who knew him.
Bud Light was introduced in March 1982. The company was made a Charter Ambassador in Anheuser-Busch’s Dimensions of Excellence program in 1982, and continued as an Ambassador for 13 consecutive years (the duration of the program).
Later, on October 24 of the same year, Leon Farmer was honored for his many years of dedication and hard work at the company when the name was changed to “Leon Farmer and Company.” The company’s sales doubled in volume from 1978 to 1984 from one million cases to two million. The company started using hand-held computerized route commanders in 1985. Prior to that time, each sales ticket was hand-written and the math was done on scratch paper, leading to many errors that required much time and effort to correct.
The sales department changed from “peddle” to “pre-sell” on January 1, 1987. Prior to that time, each route truck was a rolling warehouse, and the beer was “peddled” or sold from the truck when it arrived at a retail account.
The company moved into its new office and warehouse in Athens in November 1988. From 1984 to 1990 the company continued to grow with annual sales increasing from two million to three million cases. Leon Farmer and Company, Gainesville, won many Dimensions of Excellence awards from 1985-1991, becoming an Ambassador in 1992.
Athens and Gainesville hosted several Olympic events in the summer of 1996, and many hours of planning and execution were required to meet the company’s marketing objectives. The results were outstanding and Leon Farmer and Company was proud to have played a role in this historic event.
The company sold over four million cases in 1998, up from three million in 1990. H. Leon Farmer, III served as a member of the Anheuser-Busch Consumer Awareness and Education Advisory Panel, 2000-2002. Sales reached five million cases in 2001. Michelob Ultra was introduced in August 2003. Leon Farmer, III was appointed to the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Advisory Panel in November 2002 serving until March 2006. He was elected Chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Advisory Panel in January 2005, becoming the second son to follow in his father’s footsteps as Panel Chair.
Leon Farmer, III was elected President of the corporation on October 18, 2004 and he acquired ownership in the corporation. In 2011 Leon III purchased the remaining stock in the corporation and was elected Chairman of the Board.
Today, our Company holds a market share of +56% with annual sales exceeding 5.5 million cases. We have more than 200 employees, 110 motor vehicles, and 52 tractor-trailers. We distribute more than 600 brands and 1500 packages. We’ve come a long way from the four trucks and seven items handled in 1958.