The LebanonTurf story of progress through innovation began in the small town of Lebanon in Central Pennsylvania, today LebanonTurf products are exported to every continent in the world and LebanonTurf continue to be a market leader in the field of professional turf products in America and throughout the world.
Vernon Bishop’s lifelong dream of owning his own firm became reality in 1947 when he accepted the offer of a 50% share from the plant then known as Central Chemical Corporation of Lebanon. On May 13, 1947 the young chemical engineer became half owner and President of the branch operation. In 1953 because of Vernon’s venturesome nature, Central Chemical of Hagerstown offered to sell the remaining interest in the plant to him. Bishop again accepted the offer, became sole owner of the company, and changed the name to Lebanon Chemical Corporation.
It all began in the little town of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Central Chemical Corporation of Hagerstown, Maryland, purchased an old, dilapidated horseshoe factory on the outskirts of town. Once the home of the Lebanon Drop Forge Company, they quickly renovated and equipped it for making dry mixed fertiliser.
At this time the company had ten employees, two salesmen and sales of $500,000. Three main buildings, situated just north of Avon, housed their entire operation. The largest of the structures was the plant itself. Here fertiliser was blended and sold exclusively to farmers throughout Central Pennsylvania, under the Farm-Rite label.
Soon the company expanded its sales, selling bagged fertiliser to farmers on Long Island and producing Sears’ 5-10-5 private label fertiliser. This was Lebanon’s first venture into the lawn and garden market. Sears had other vendors, but eventually Lebanon took over all their fertiliser business and built a successful association with this retailing giant that lasted over 30 years. In addition to Sears, Lebanon would also come to manufacture and package private label fertilisers for many major chain stores and corporations.
Lebanon was one of the first manufacturers to put weed killer in fertiliser. Originally, it was made using a sprinkling can and a small ribbon mixer. In 1951, the company embarked on an ambitious undertaking to produce pesticides for the United Nation’s campaign to eradicate malaria. Its products were shipped worldwide in support of this program for the next twenty years. Manufacturing techniques have come a long way since those early days, and today Lebanon has several production lines dedicated to these combination fertiliser/chemical products.
In the 1950′s, the company made another major advance as it learned the process for making “urea form” controlled release fertilisers from Allied Chemical. This technology employed a process perfected by TVA that was to become the core process for making homogenous lawn and garden fertilisers.
In 1953 Vernon Bishop took sole ownership of the company and changed the name to Lebanon Chemical Corporation. As with most young companies, Lebanon Chemical Corporation was soon to experience a few trying times. On a stormy Sunday night on June 23, 1957, a bolt of lightning struck its main business office and insecticide warehouse. The entire structure was destroyed by flames and resulted in $400,000 worth of damage. While most companies would have seen this as a catastrophe, an undaunted Lebanon Chemical saw it as an opportunity to rebuild and better its facility. The next day the business office was relocated and a new warehouse was soon constructed exactly where the old structure stood.
The 60′s was a period of rapid growth. The company was became particularly successful at expanding its fertiliser operations through a string of some 30 business acquisitions. First two remote plants – ‘Dayton Fertiliser’ and ‘Trenton Bone Company’ were purchased in 1965. By 1967, demand for the nonfarm fertiliser was crowding out production of farm fertiliser at Lebanon, so a plant in Baltimore was purchased from FMC and farm production was moved there. The purchase of Agrico’s lawn and garden division brought a number of key personnel to Lebanon and gave the company another plant in Danville, IL. It also provided Lebanon with a stronger foothold in the professional turf and garden markets and established the product line – Country Club®.
In 1974, Lebanon purchased Eli Lilly’s (Elanco) lawn and garden business, complete with customers, trademarks and brand names. Lebanon, who had been manufacturing Elanco’s line of Greenfield retail products for years, renamed the new company GreenView® to retain as much as its former brand identity as possible.
The 80′s saw Lebanon venture into the liquid fertiliser market by buying purchasing 4 companies around the US, Lebanon developed a coordinated division under the Lebanon Agricorp name to handle this business.
Meanwhile, Vernon Bishop, the company’s founder and guiding force for its first forty years, realised that the management team he had assembled and which had been responsible for the company’s tremendous growth, was approaching retirement age. So in 1987, he enticed his daughter, Katherine Bishop, a physicist with a MBA degree then working in Australia, to join the corporation.
The 90′s brought a new direction, with Lebanon branching into grass seed and grass seed and wild bird food businesses through further aquisitions. The professional division, LebanonTurf Products, also broadened its product offerings as a result of being able to add grass seed to its established Country Club® and Greenskeeper® fertiliser lines developing own proprietary seed varieties.
A new distribution center strategy was formulated to maximise warehouse capacity and speed inventory retrieval and shipment. Several freak snowstorms during the winter of 1996 threatened to bury this strategy for a time under a mountain of heavy wet snow. The combined accumulations brought down two of Lebanon’s largest warehouses, destroying 150,000 square feet of storage area. Just as it had when faced with similar catastrophes, Lebanon seized the opportunity to rebuild, improve and expand. A 200,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art distribution center was constructed, supported by the latest distribution and manufacturing resource planning information technology.
In 1998, Lebanon made the difficult, yet strategic decision to turn away from its agricultural roots and sell its farm division. It was then able to focus its resources entirely on growth opportunities in the expanding professional turf and consumer lawn and garden markets. The purchase of two companies that same year helped to further diversify and enhance the corporation’s abilities to meet these goals. Penn Turf Products, maker of a unique seed establishment mulch known as Pennmulch®, was acquired. Lebanon also bought the professional division of Pursell Industries. Its Par-Ex® brand, formulated with IBDU®, was added to Lebanon’s stable of golf course products. Manufacturing facilities were upgraded to provide production capabilities for this exclusive nitrogen source. In addition, Lebanon obtained the rights to an enhanced methylene urea technology under the brand name Meth-Ex®.
Lebanon’s commitment to aggressive, new product research and development continues to bring advancements in nitrogen technology and the creation of new product lines that out-perform competitive brands. In 2000, Lebanon launched a revolutionary methylene urea with sulfate of ammonia product named Mesa®, followed shortly by Expo®, which added sulfate of potash to the methylene urea base. Lebanon’s seed breeding program has also been successful in producing a number of the world’s best proprietary seed varieties – top-rated for quality by the national Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP).
In 2008 Lebanon Seaboard acquired the Emerald Isle™ line of products from Milliken & Co. Emerald Isle™ premium foliar fertilisers and other granular nutrition products were added to the Professional Products offering. These specialised products even further broaden Lebanon’s ability to address turfgrass management needs through advanced foliar nutrition. Lebanon works with Ocean Organics to produce the high quality sea plant extract and foliar products that are an essential part of the Emerald Isle™ product line.
Roots® was acquired by Lebanon Seaboard from Novozymes, a global leader in biotechnology solutions across a wide range of industries. The Roots® Turf brand is an all-in-one nutrient delivery system that feeds the plant while enhancing the biological life of the soil and plant ecosystem. Roots® products are used on golf and sports turf, as well as for lawn care, sod and hydro seeding to provide consistent color response, improved turf density and root mass. The acquisition reinforced Lebanon’s commitment to the emerging field of biological plant nutrition.
Today, Lebanon Seaboard is a world class, single-source producer of lawn and garden supplies, wild bird food, and professional turf and horticultural products. Once a single plant in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, it now operates 8 producing locations in 6 states and employs over 300 people. Its professional division leads the field in terms of product diversity and innovation, providing turf professionals worldwide with products that deliver optimal results. Its retail division is one of America’s premium suppliers of consumer products, recognised for its cutting edge technology, differentiated packaging and niche marketing.
Lebanon Seaboard Corporation has prospered over half a century in an industry constantly challenged by change, financial stress, and strong competition. It continues to remain resilient and dedicated to the industries which it proudly serves.
The late Vernon Bishop’s legacy continues on today throughout the small town of Lebanon’s community as his generosity continues to touch the lives of so many in various ways.
LebanonTurf UK Product Portfolio
Lebanon has remained at the fore front of fertiliser technology in the fertiliser industry by introducing IsoTek® with IBDU® and exclusive nitrogen source, Meth-Ex® an enhanced methylene urea technology, Mesa® a methylene urea with sulphate of ammonia, and Expo® with sulfate of potash added to the methylene urea base. Top selling analysis of our popular fine grade Country Club® are also available to the UK market.