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Clay G. Wilson

Citrus Marketing Services

The Great Fruit Company was born of a marriage between a citrus caretaking, development, and real estate business and a citrus buying, selling, and harvesting company. Citrus Marketing Services was incorporated in 1968.

Clay G. Wilson oversees the citrus division of Silver Nip Citrus, one of the most geographically diverse citrus operations in Florida, with groves in seven counties.


All right, can we just call you the “tree whisperer”?
I wouldn’t go that far! But dark green leaves do tell me that I’m doing something right. My dad and grandfather handed down 80 years of combined know-how. That says a lot.

The original groves were planted in the 1930s by your grandfather.
Latimer Maxcy, yes. But a big freeze in the ‘80s paralyzed many of the trees. My dad (Pat Wilson) always dreamed of rebuilding those dormant groves. So, in the early ‘90s, we did just that. We replanted trees that are just as beautiful as the ones that were there before.

Silver Nip Citrus is named after one of your grandfather’s trademarked citrus names. Sounds like he was quite a guy.
He sure was! Latt started out by traveling the railway up and down the East Coast, from Florida to New York. He’d rent a boxcar, fill it with fruit, and stop off at local grocers along the way to drop off a carton here and there. He’d say, “If you like it, give me a call. If you don’t, you don’t owe me anything.” His entrepreneurial spirit led him to huge success in fruit packing and juicing. And later on, he was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame.

The family business certainly grew. Does it still feel like a family business?
Absolutely. My dad was CEO for 37 years, and he raised us in the operation. I was groomed for the citrus side. As a teenager, I spent summers working in the groves, and I learned every basic job in the operation. Of course, we owe a great debt to our employees for any success we’ve had. They are extended members of our own family. True, we aren’t as small as we used to be—but we like it to feel that way. In fact, the first employee I hired in 1985—Santos Franco—still works here today. We’re growing old together!

Why did your dad say, “Always be prepared for the best crop ever”?
He meant that our groves are only as good as their potential to produce quality oranges. Because better fruit leads to better orange juice. I’ve always liked taking a piece of land and replanting it with modern methods, like innovative growing and fertilizing techniques. I like to see the differences that can be accomplished.

So, modern science is your best tool?
No, actually. It’s fortitude and diligence. There is no ease of entry or exit in this type of business. Through patience comes knowledge. And hopefully, it comes in a way that you can apply in a positive manner.

Latt would agree with you.
When I see my son run around our family’s first groves, I can’t help but wonder what he’d say if he could see the continued success of his vision. He’d be very proud. Proud of our spirit to grow.


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