Since its beginning in 1972 , Carolina Eastern has been helping farmers grow their crops bigger and better every year. CEO Ashton Phillips founded Carolina Eastern along with partners Tony Cecil of Charleston and Sammie Rodgers of Scranton in 1972 amid uncertain times for the fertilizer industry. "We were able to survive and actually thrive during the early years because we were dedicated to hard work and to satisfying our customers." says CEO Phillips.
Today, Carolina Eastern employs over 300 people and operates more than 40 plants throughout the Southeast and beyond. With operations as far away as South Dakota and Minnesota, Carolina Eastern is dedicated to excellence through growth.
Two major principles stand out at Carolina Eastern: the importance of people and the commitment to manage change.
"People are the heart of our business,"' says CEO Phillips. "Without good people, it would be impossible to do what we do." As a family business owner, Phillips knows the importance of valuing people completely. "With our staff representing Carolina Eastern across the country, it is crucial to maintain positive relationships with them as they are the "real people"' that deal with the farmers day by day."' Farmers throughout the Southeast have grown to trust Carolina Eastern because of the reputation of the company and its senior management.
CEO Ashton Phillips and President Al Phillips have mastered the delicate skills of change management. "'The (fertilizer) industry is constantly changing. Farmers are becoming better businessmen and the farms are getting bigger," says Phillips.
"Change has been, and will continue to be, a major factor in the fertilizer business, and the degree that Carolina Eastern can react positively to it will determine the level of success we can achieve." says Mr. Phillips with an optimistic tone. The fertilizer business has changed over the years from large, port-based factories to smaller plants in farming communities. The smaller plants today not only analyze the farms soil in order to mix the proper fertilizer for that specific farm, but can also spread the fertilizer for the farmer.
Change has been more than a buzzword in the fertilizer industry. In the early 70s, the oil companies were major players and, throughout the years, big grain concerns have gone in and out of the fertilizer business. "Stick to what you know" says Phillips in a word of advice. With its recent development of a new home fertilizer, Vertago, Carolina Eastern is not hesitant to explore new opportunities. Operating as a wholesaler, distributor, retailer and service provider, Carolina Eastern has experienced the gamut of business development.