50 for 50: Mack Farms

Published online: Dec 21, 2021 50 for 50, Articles, Grower of the Month
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition. To view the full roster of “50 for 50” honorees, click here. 
This article appears in the December 2021 issue of Potato Grower

Arnold and Brenda Mack

By all accounts, Arnold Mack was a pioneer in the fresh produce industry. After a short stint working for his family’s funeral parlor business in southern Alabama, Arnold chose to pursue a different career path. As he often told it, “We couldn’t get ’em in the ground fast enough to grow the business, so we decided on a different approach: growing fresh produce and getting ’em out of the ground. From there, it was up to us to grow the business.”

His first farming venture was growing watermelons in southern Alabama in 1967, and Mack Farms was one of the first in the world to market seedless watermelon varieties. In 1980, Arnold purchased a farm in Lake Wales, Fla., where he raised melons and vegetables. In 1989, Mack Farms grew its first potato crop, with sweet onions added to the mix a few years later.

Not only a leader when it came to agricultural innovation, Arnold Mack also felt a sense of duty to help the industry wherever he could. He served as a president and board member of the Alabama Watermelon Association, Florida Watermelon Association, and National Watermelon Association. He was instrumental in the creation of the National Watermelon Promotion Board and served on the U.S. Potato Board.

Arnold passed away in 2016. Today, his son, Chandler Mack, runs the farming operation as company president. What began as a small, seasonal family farm has since grown into one of the largest produce farming and marketing operations in Florida. Mack Farms, Inc. specializes in new crop potatoes and early seedless watermelon, and markets such popular brands as River Gold potatoes and onions and McMelon melons. While the company’s potato specialties are reds and yellows, it also grows and markets white, russet and fingerling varieties. Mack Farms’ potato shipping season runs from February through June, but they pack and distribute potatoes nationwide and year-round from all major growing areas. Mack Farms is a member of Fresh Solutions Network, which has helped not only to expand the reach of their business, but to share with others in the potato industry the pioneering spirit that has made them so successful.

Chandler Mack