In the Spring of 1993, my husband Bob and I began a casual conversation about launching a Peanut Business. Both of us grew up on a farm in which peanuts were grown each year - so peanuts were truly dear to our hearts and taste buds! With our generational family farming background, this idea seemed like a great project for us to tackle. A farm to table company would be the answer and in April of 1993 the decision was made to make it happen. Our family settled on the name “Belmont Peanuts of Southampton, Inc.” and with all legal work completed, Belmont Peanuts of Southampton, Inc. was officially born in September. The Basement of our home became the official office with one phone line and one employee - Patsy Marks! Luckily, we had an opportunity to purchase a peanut mailing list of 500 that helped give us a start and by the fall of 1993 the first mailing was ready to go. We were thrilled to begin sharing our farm to table product with the world.
The Birth of Belmont Peanuts
Hit the Ground Running
Our products were kept simple - 20 oz. tins of Salted and Unsalted Peanuts. With the help of Bob and the children, we all worked very hard to fill orders along with managing the school needs of a young family. During these young years, we made every effort to enter the marketplace wherever we could. We took advantage of Farmers Markets, Shows, Wine Events and made it a point to travel to golf courses up and down the East Coast. The family sales team kept busy while rave reviews about our delicious, super crunchy, Virginia Peanuts began spreading by word of mouth. The business was growing and packages were overflowing. It was time to get an account with UPS for an everyday pickup!
Moving on Up (& Out of the Basement)
By 2004, with our growth, changes became necessary. In May, we were blessed to have David Peck join our small company. David brought a wealth of knowledge to our business regarding the peanut manufacturing and production process. Time had come to make a move from the Basement of our home. We began to explore our resources and found an existing one room building on the farm that we renovated and made into our new all-in-one manufacturing facility. The room included one small batch fryer, one canning machine and one desk!
Throughout these years, Belmont's customer base was steadily growing. More production space was needed so plans were put into action to build our very first full size production room.
Belmont Production Room
This project was completed - what an accomplishment! Along with our growth, our peanut flavor profiles were expanding which enabled our company to become much more diversified with our product offerings.
Robert Joins the Family Business
In the Spring of 2012, upon our son's graduation from East Carolina University with a degree in Small Business Entrepreneurship, Robert joined the company. He was such a welcome addition with the administrative area of our business. Belmont continued to move forward exhibiting at many food shows which in turn brought on new opportunities for the business.
Once again, the company had the need for more space. The second expansion was agreed upon and in August 2014 the project was completed. Belmont was proud to have the much needed warehouse space along with a brand new loading dock!
Megan Joins the Family Business
In August of 2015, our daughter Megan, exited the Corporate World of office furniture working with “Knoll” and returned home to join the company. Megan came to the company bringing her design talents and became our Marketing and Sales Director.
Kelly Joins the Family Business
January of 2017, our daughter Kelly agreed to come back and join the company. Kelly left behind her expertise in Vascular Ultrasound and took over our food safety division and worked closely in production and scheduling.
By this time our company was at a major crossroads with a big decision to make. Do we continue to scale up or push the brakes and maintain . . . we chose growth! Our family became creative and began the journey of planning for the construction of a completely new manufacturing/operations plant which would include a retail shop and Deli late in 2018. This project was an enormous step for our company and family to undertake but our faith led us forward.
Let the Construction Commence
By the end of March 2019, the first load of steel was delivered to the site and construction began.
At the close of 2019, Bob made the decision to retire from farming. Many years had been spent planting, nurturing the land and harvesting the crops at Marks Farms with his brother Mike. Time had come to pass the torch to Mike and his son Michael. Their love for the farm and land continue today. With Bob's retirement, his energy could now be dedicated to helping at Belmont - what a welcome addition!
Belmont Deli & Specialty Shop Opens
Construction was complete and occupancy permits were issued in March. Due to the COVID 19 outbreak, we were forced to postpone our Deli opening. On the manufacturing side of our business, most of our major orders were cancelled. Life stopped for a brief point in time, but the business became proactive and devised plans to pivot.
First of Many
On April 16, our first batch of peanuts were cooked in the new plant – what an accomplishment for the team!
Small Business of the Year
On May 20, Belmont Peanuts was award the "2021 WESTERN HAMPTON ROADS SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR" by the Hampton Roads Chamber! What an honor for our business to have been selected for this award.
The Possibilities are Endless
To date, The Marks Family and the entire Belmont team remains dedicated and passionate about our business. Belmont’s product line is extensive and can be found in many Specialty Retail avenues of business across the nation and internationally. Belmont continues to have many loyal and dedicated employees that have been with our company through our success. The Marks Family is forever grateful for the dedication these individuals have given to our family business. The Belmont Deli and Specialty Shop under the leadership of London Harrell has been an added delight for our company. Travelers from near and far stop in and experience the warm hospitality of our Deli team and savor the delicious food that is prepared fresh daily!
30 Year Anniversary
2023 marks our 30th Year in Business! Our family looks forward to many more years of continued growth - sharing our passion for the great Virginia Peanut with customers near and far. We are proud of our family farming legacy that ties our operation to the land and community. Many thanks to our farmers at home and across our nation for the dedication and love of the land. Let's all do our part in keeping the American Farm alive!