IN THE EARLY YEARS…
South Mill’s roots began 4 generations ago in 1932 when John Pia, an Italian immigrant, began operating a small mushroom farm in southeastern Chester County, Pennsylvania. In the 1950s, the Pia family began supplying mushroom growing substrate to many local family-owned mushroom farms and in a few short years, became the largest supplier of this substrate. In the 1970s, the domestic mushroom industry was largely dependent on sales to the processing markets, and mushroom growers nationwide were being severely injured by the influx of inexpensive, imported canned mushrooms. As a result, many of these small family-owned mushroom farms that had been in existence for several generations were being shuttered. Understanding the transition that was occurring in the substrate supply business, our family decided to expand its mushroom growing operations as a means of diversification. In 1982, we purchased one of Pennsylvania’s largest mushroom farms from the Clorox Corporation.
In 1982, having no existing direct marketing in place, South Mill was faced with the challenge of selling its crop of fresh mushrooms, which by the end of that first year of operations totaled approximately 9 million pounds. In the beginning, South Mill sold its mushrooms through Kennett Square mushroom brokers and third-party middlemen, but the need for regional growth and independence from those brokers necessitated that we begin selling our product directly to the retail, wholesale, foodservice, and commercial processor markets, so we embarked on the challenge of selling the production of our vastly expanded farms under the “South Mill” label,. Decades later, with 24/7 customer service, South Mill seamlessly supplies over 75 million pounds of fresh, frozen, and processed mushrooms annually into expanded territories via our advanced logistics department, utilizing the latest transportation technologies.
GROWTH AND EXPANSION
Seeking to expand our market reach, we targeted the Southwest in 1989. To facilitate this expansion and deliver a high level of service and quality product, South Mill established the first of several company-owned and operated distribution centers. Our distribution centers, strategically located in major metropolitan areas, changed the way non-regionally produced mushrooms were sold. These operations are able to deliver unparalleled service to regional retail and foodservice customers. With the linking of our distribution centers to our existing logistics system, South Mill successfully brought the farm to market. The concept of remote distribution centers serving the mushroom trade in areas distant from the farm was successfully established and expanded. Our distribution centers have a centralized sales office located in Dallas, Texas. Each facility is fully staffed with experienced produce distribution specialists to better serve the retail, wholesale, foodservice, and processing venues in those regions.
80 Years Strong
BEHIND THE SCENES
South Mill is a vertically integrated company, and as such, ensures consistent quality and supply through continuous innovations in production, transportation, marketing, and distribution. Today, we service over 500 loyal customers in 35 states and Canada.
As a pacesetter in a fiercely competitive industry, South Mill is constantly leading the way. In 2000 we constructed what was the first indoor mushroom composting operation in North America. Environmentally friendly and operationally efficient, this state-of-the-art composting system produces mushroom growing substrate indoors in a fully-controlled environment, resulting in greater productive capacity and consistent product quality, thereby giving South Mill a critical supply advantage. This is but one example of how South Mill sets the bar high by implementing the latest techniques and methods available, throughout our operations.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
South Mill is constantly adapting to become more than just a quality mushroom supplier. Our expanding logistics services, cold and frozen storage services, freezing and processing offerings, and our ever-growing portfolio of food products from around the world, provide our customer base with a wide variety of options.
From the beginning, our employees have accomplished a level of dedication that makes us proud.
We pride ourselves on being a socially responsible company, to our customers, employees, and the communities around us.
Growing & selling nearly 75 Million pounds a year!
South Mill was the first mushroom farm in the North America to conduct mushroom substrate fermentation or Phase I indoors under in a fully-controlled environment in specially designed bunkers or “tunnels” in an environmentally friendly and operationally efficient process. Along with Phase I tunnels, South Mill utilizes Phase II or pasteurization tunnels, which allows us to increase the crop cycles per year in our growing rooms. Additionally, our Phase II process yields an even greater increase in South Mill’s productive capacity and provides us with a critical process advantage over our competition.
“I am so proud to be associated with the owners and staff of South Mill in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. For the last thirty years of my career, I have watched this company grow their business from what was initially just a growing facility into what is a leading supplier of mushrooms and produce nationwide. From the early days to the fiercely competitive business arena today, South Mill has remained dedicated to environmentally-friendly mushroom production within the hundreds of communities surrounding their production facilities.
South Mill is the first in the United States to construct a commercial composting facility implementing the latest European technology, which brings the composting process from outside to a completely controlled atmosphere indoors. As a result of this massive environmentally friendly and socially responsible investment, South Mill has decreased, by half, the time it takes to produce a more consistent and biologically efficient substrate benefiting their customers with a year-round, consistent supply of quality mushrooms. This cutting-edge technology reduces, by 95%, odors from the substrate preparation process, dramatically decreasing the acres of housing allocated for mushroom production.
I am sure that South Mill will be leading the way in the future by providing the purest possible products to their customers through the most environmentally safe technology in the industry.
JOIN THE SOUTH MILL FAMILY!
Today, South Mill is one of the largest mushroom grower/packer/distributors in North America with over 1,000 dedicated team members who have grown the business into something much more than just a mushroom company. We are extremely appreciative and proud of our team members, many of whom have devoted their entire careers to the success of our organization.
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We are a fast paced organization with 5 fully staffed distribution facilities in:
- Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
- Atlanta, Georgia
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Houston, Texas
- Dallas, Texas
Our diversification as a grower, importer, distributor, processor, and logistics provider has enabled our company to sustain growth in an ever-changing marketplace.