Robbie Felts, left, and his father, Bob Felts, outside the packing plant in Ivor. The family-owned business is among 13 nominees for the 2013 Tayloe-Murphy Resilience Awards. -- FILE PHOTO
Robbie Felts, left, and his father, Bob Felts, outside the packing plant in Ivor. The family-owned business is among 13 nominees for the 2013 Tayloe-Murphy Resilience Awards. -- FILE PHOTO

Archived Story

Felts Packing named finalist for major business award

Published 11:31am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

IVOR—R.M. Felts Packing Co., a regional landmark known even far beyond its borders for several decades, is among 13 finalists for the 2013 Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards.

For those people new to Western Tidewater, Felts is the largest privately owned country-ham-curing operation in Virginia. Founded by R.M. Felts Sr., the Ivor-based company has served its customers since 1958. He had reopened the former Ivor Ham Co., which had closed three years before on the death of the owner, L.H. Babb.

This annual recognition focuses on Virginia businesses that not only provide a quality product or service, but also have endured adversity and thrived. Further, they must show a commitment to their respective communities.

Of those nominees, five will be chosen in the areas of agriculture, manufacturing/wholesale, retail and service. The winners will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 15, at The Abbott Center in the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, which co-sponsors the awards with the Institute for Business in Society. Virginia Business also helps present the honors.

“In any shape, form or fashion, we appreciate being thought of,” said Robert “Bob” Felts Jr., whose father began the business.

“We entered the last two years. The first year they thanked me for being an entry. We were a semi-finalist in 2012,” Felts continued.

Hubbard Peanut Co. in Sedley won then, and Highground Services in Franklin received the honor in 2011.

Felts said for this third opportunity he updated the application by adding more personal information, not only business, but also community involvement.

“We’ve been blessed as a business, and all the credit goes to the good Lord,” he said. “We try to keep everything real simple, and we’re blessed with our customer base.”

Felts acknowledged that the business has diminished some over the years because “people’s cooking habits have changed.”

In addition to the Virginia recognition, he’ll also be doing a presentation on QVC this November. The company is registered with the Virginia’s Finest Products, and the company’s reputation for its smoked country hams, bacon and smoked dry-cured jowls.

“I feel like we do an excellent name of promoting the county,” Felts said in reference to the SoutHAMpton name on the cloth sacks. “We have stayed faithful to Southampton, and we appreciate our local support.”

Another person hopeful for Felts’ recognition is Theresa Beale, executive director of the Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s quite exciting,” she said, noting the highly detailed process that businesses must go through for even a nomination.

Not only has the chamber suggested names in the past, but also community leaders and the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc.

“It’s quite an honor for the company and the community,” Beale continued. “It helps promote and shine a light on their business.”

For the five winners, Darden will arrange for extensive media coverage, such as interviews and space on its website. Networking is arranged with private and public leaders who could help expand the businesses. A scholarship to Darden’s Executive Education programs is another part of the victory. Darden faculty members will offer instruction in business-related matters.

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