James Emmett Evans was the founder of Evans Properties, Inc. Emmett Evans, as he was known, was born in Culverton, Georgia on March 1, 1900. At the age of 21, he left his native Georgia and moved to Florida with his wife, Julia, and began what would be one of the most dynamic and successful citrus careers in the history of the state and the citrus industry. He was passionate about the citrus industry and played an instrumental role in its development well into his 90’s.
It was in his early years while in Auburndale, FL, that he founded Evans Motor Company and acquired his first grove. After the boom of the 1920’s, he served as Mayor of Auburndale and orchestrated the refinancing of the city’s financial affairs. During the 1940’s Emmett created the West Coast Growers Cooperative and also organized Triple E Development which acquired citrus groves throughout the west coast and central Florida.
In the 1950s, he became involved with Pasco Packing Company where he served as President and was instrumental in its expansion into one of the premiere citrus processors in the world at the time. The company was later sold to Lykes Brothers.
In 1951, Emmett liquidated Triple E Development and formed Evans Properties Inc. which received title to own and operate the groves in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties.
In 1957, Emmett built one of the first bulk concentrate production facilities in the state in Dade City. He was one of the first processors to develop a business strategy to supply other packagers with drums of bulk concentrate for distribution to chain stores.
Emmett also took advantage of the emerging Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ) futures market as a hedging vehicle for the bulk inventories he maintained. (While a common practice today, it was a progressive strategy for the citrus industry at the time.) Unsatisfied with dealing through brokers, Emmett bought his own seat on the exchange and traded on the floor for his own account. Backed by his willingness to stockpile inventory for physical delivery on the futures market, a deep understanding of the fundamentals of the citrus industry and an uncanny sense of market psychology, Emmett Evans remained a major force in the FCOJ market during its formative years.
After the 1962 freeze that killed many groves, Emmett became a leader of the industry’s expansion into the more southerly flatwood area to replace lost grove acreage. He began construction of the 7,000 acre Bluefield Grove in St. Lucie County, one of the largest contiguous groves built in the Indian River district.
In the early 1970’s, he began construction on an even larger contiguous property along the Indian River/Okeechobee County lines near Florida’s Turnpike.
In the early 1980’s, Emmett purchased a 10,000 acre tract in Charlotte County in the new Gulf production region and began development of additional groves.
During the span of his 50 year career in citrus, encompassing most of the modern day history of the processed citrus industry, Emmett built a reputation as a shrewd, financially astute entrepreneur with an uncanny “sixth” sense as to when to “bet the ranch.” Unlike many others, Emmett never considered retirement and remained active as CEO of the family business well into his 90s. Emmett died at the age of 96 on June 13, 1996.
Beginning in the 1990’s, Evans Properties, Inc. expanded its land management operations to include entitlement protection and enhancement as well as assessment of various mineral mining potential and protection of water resources.
As diseases and hurricanes have continued to diminish citrus opportunities, Evans has increasingly looked for alternative crops and uses for the land other than citrus. Evans continues to experiment and research a variety of potential biofuel and energy crops in an effort to diversify and expand the possibilities for its land holdings.
Evans has organized, participated in and managed several supply cooperatives for its own processing plant. In more recent times, Evans has been instrumental in organizing industry grower-managed fruit marketing cooperatives comprised of ourselves and other large growers, so as to supply fruit to large processors and marketers, under exclusive, long-term marketing agreements and shorter term spot contracts.