15 Winter 2018 | www.htcinc.net Graham, and his two sons, Devin and Andrew. What was once a one-man show has evolved into a full-fledged business with eight to 10 employees, depending on the season. Devin, unofficially titled the “Everything Man” at Palmetto Farms, handles a variety of responsibilities that range from wholesale negotiations to accounts payable to equipment repair. In a former life, he was a network engineer — a far cry from being a farmer — and there’s something poetic about him ending up in the family business by choice, not by obligation. “The best part of all this is that people will often say, ‘You don’t know how much this made my day. I haven’t had grits like this since I was a kid.’” What is striking about the Dormans isn’t their impressive production line, their total category dominance with online resellers or their growing revenue — it’s the purity of the process and the integrity at the core of the entire operation. It’s immediately apparent that the family exudes humility; they speak matter-of-factly about complex plant chemistry and multi-faceted business maneuvers, and it appears to be for one simple reason: They prefer to let their product shine. Grits are the biggest seller, made from natural whole grain and premium non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) corn selected specifically for its flavor profile and nutritional value. Palmetto Farms also produces popular cornmeal, cornbread mix, pancake mix, hush puppy mix and more. Rest assured that whatever you buy from Palmetto Farms will be of the highest quality, because the Dormans are firm believers in doing it absolutely right or not doing it at all. It starts with a truckload of corn — about 44,000 pounds, to be exact. From there, the corn is run through the Dormans’ stone mill, which grinds it into various consistencies. Next, it goes through a screening process that separates the flour from the grits. Once that’s finished, it goes into containers and awaits bag production — another very particular process that is a labor of love. The special cloth they order in bulk goes through a lengthy, time-consuming process full of layers, grids, customized sewing patterns and screen-printing. The most impressive part is that it’s all done right here in-house — literally “in a house,” as Devin’s great-grandmother’s home has been converted into offices and production workspace. Even the design of the bags and the logo are homegrown. A former graphic designer, David branded the Palmetto Farms merchandise himself. It’s not an inexpensive process, but the Dormans aren’t the type to cut corners. Why? 14 www.htcinc.net | Winter 2018 HowPalmettoFarmsisgrowingabusinesstheold-fashionedway Down an unassuming road in Aynor, there’s a family-owned operation that produces a staple in any Southern kitchen — grits — and they do it well. How well? When you get a call from the chef at Four Seasons Hotels in New York City begging for an overnight order of grits, you know you’re doing something right. In 1934, James Graham began a small stone mill operation that provided grits and cornmeal to his family and neighbors. Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, Palmetto Farms serves up the same old-fashioned, high-quality products that it has since the beginning. Palmetto Farms brand was established with a focus to make one specialty product — real good grits — and has become the leading producer in America of all natural, old fashioned, stone ground grits. A fourth-generation family-owned business is a rarity in any context — and is especially so in this case, given the challenges that farmers have faced in recent years. Adaptability is key, and it’s something that this family has a firm grasp on. Today, the farm and business are owned and operated by David Dorman, grandson of James “The best part of all this is that people will often say, ‘You don’t know how much this made my day. I haven’t had grits like this since I was a kid.’” Pictured left to right: Devin Dorman, David Dorman, Andrew Dorman Photos provided by www.palmettofarms.com Photos provided by www.palmettofarms.com