The National Peanut Buying Points Association, representing more than 400 buying points across the United States, from New Mexico to Virginia, recently named Kelley Manufacturing Co.’s Lanier Carson as the 2013 Peanut Pioneer.
The Peanut Pioneer award recognizes an individual who has helped the peanut industry evolve into a powerful economic engine and pioneered new and innovative developments to better the peanut buying point segment and the entire peanut industry.
NPBPA President Kenny Brownlee said, “This year’s recipient is like Christopher Columbus. He has a new idea, launches it and watches it work.”
Brownlee recently made the presentation at the Association’s annual Pre-Harvest Meeting and Summer Conference, held at Lake Blackshear in Cordele.
Carson was born in Baxley and grew up working on his uncle’s farm in Appling County, where they farmed tobacco and peanuts. After graduation in 1959, he worked at the Alaska Railroad, where he became a certified welder, perfecting the art of metal fabrication. In 1961, he moved back to Appling County to work with Monsanto Chemical Company, before moving to Atlanta in 1962 to attend Georgia Tech, studying Industrial Engineering and Management. Carson graduated with top honors and went to work with Atlantic Steel Company and later Western Electric.
Soon, it became apparent that Atlanta was not the ideal place to raise a family, so Carson became the plant superintendent for Paulk Engineering Enterprises in Fitzgerald.
In May of 1972, Carson joined KMC as their production engineer. In 1973, he became plant superintendent and was named vice president for manufacturing in 1974. In 1979, he became president/CEO and in the fall of 1981, Carson became the principal owner of KMC. In 1990, Carson established a trust for KMC employees and the company is now 100 percent employee owned.
Under Carson’s management of KMC, the following peanut harvesting equipment has been developed and marketed: the first two-row combine with a constant velocity drive line, the first six-row peanut inverter, the first four- and six-row peanut combines, the first unload-on-the-go peanut combine, the first introduction of dump carts and the first marketing of the first four- and six-row flex inverters.
Today, Carson serves as a co-trustee of the Employee Trust, chairman of the board and CEO of the company. He is a hands-on man. KMC leases a 486 acre farm in Tift County from Carson for the purpose of testing equipment. That farm is also perfect for company picnics and other recreation.
During his career, Carson has donated more than $1 million personally to various groups, mainly agricultural and religious. He has also refurbished and donated two KMC combines and attachments to peanut researchers.
Carson is married to the former Lenna Collins of Baxley. He has one daughter, Tonja Carson, one step-daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Rick and Vickie Kimbrell, and one grandson, Clay Kimbrell.
Other recent winners of the Peanut Pioneer award include Frank McGill, a retired peanut extension agent, Bill Dykes Sr. of Peerless Manufacturing Company, and Jack Chastain with Doster Warehouse.