Founded in Cleveland, Mississippi, in 1953, Jimmy Sanders, Inc. has become one of the leading farm supply distribution businesses with over 100 locations in thirteen states. The company is multifaceted in its operations, which include agricultural chemical distribution, seed production and sales, bulk handling of fertilizer and, through its award-winning OptiGro® program, precision agriculture services. The company also provides wildlife food plot products and services through its Wildwood Genetics® brand and general ‘Farm & Hardware’ merchandise at select locations. Jimmy Sanders has been a good friend to Mid-South farmers since 1953 and has contributed significantly to the area and the economy.
A native of Tippo, Mississippi, Jimmy Sanders came to Cleveland to attend college at Delta State. He began his career as a bookkeeper for the Goyer Company. His job was interrupted by World War II, during which time he served in the Air Force. After the war, Jimmy returned to Cleveland to work for the Russell-Heckel Seed Company, based in Memphis. In 1953, at 40 years of age, he decided it was time to start his own farm supply company. The business was named ‘Jimmy Sanders Seed Company’ and was initially housed in a rented warehouse. Jimmy built his first grain elevator in 1957, naming it ‘Sanders Elevator Corp.’ In 1964, Jimmy's son, Mike, returned from college to help his father manage the company. That year, they formed ‘Cleveland Chemical Company’ as a wholesale distribution arm. With continued growth, the company opened its first branch in the early 1970s, in Hollandale, Mississippi, and its first location outside Mississippi in 1974, in Wynne, Arkansas, naming it ‘Cleveland Chemical Company of Arkansas.’
In the early 1980s, Jimmy Sanders Seed Company built its first bulk dry and liquid fertilizer facility at the Port of Rosedale. The access afforded to the Mississippi River allowed the company to expand its markets and reduce its dependence on trucking and rail. With the major distribution components in place, the company gradually added further locations throughout the Mid-South. By placing the interests of its loyal grower customers ahead of its own, and by supporting local communities, the company enjoyed steady, consistent growth.
In 1995, Jimmy Sanders Seed Company, Cleveland Chemical Company, Sanders Elevator Corp., and Cleveland Chemical Company of Arkansas were merged into Jimmy Sanders Incorporated, which continues to this day. Mr. Jimmy’s grandson, Michael, joined the company in 1998, extending the distinctive family leadership and culture into the third generation.
In 2012, the company formed a strategic partnership with Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings and affiliates of Apollo Global Management to pursue the development of a national agricultural input distribution network. The Sanders family is enthusiastic about the partnership and the ability to further enhance the company’s distribution network while maintaining the tight-knit culture and grower-focused approach that Jimmy Sanders has come to represent since 1953.