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Duda Celebrates 75 Years of Growth and Diversification

After 75 years, five generations and several family ventures that include farming and real estate development, A. Duda and Sons, Inc. continues to flourish.

According to company president and chief executive officer, F.S. Duda, 61m, grandsom of the company's founder, the secret to the longevity and success of the business is the family's long-standing religious faith and being able to change with the times, reported Joe Van Leer of the Orlando Sentinel. The company's revenues were about $300 million last year.

"Treating people with respect and being fortunate to have dedicated employees also helps," he said.

The company's diamond anniversary will be celebrated throughout the year at its various locations. As a token of appreciation, 850 full-time and about 2500 seasonal employees will get an extra-long Labor Day weekend, with Aug. 31 off.

"It's fitting that a family company is giving its employees time with their own families," said Susan Howard, director of media operations.

Company founder Andrew Duda immigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Central Florida in 1911. The family sold its first cash crop of celery in 1926. Over time, the company expanded from vegetables, citrus, sod and sugar cane to cattle and real estate.

F. S. Duda, one of five members of the family's third generation, has three daughters and a son-in-law working in different capacities in the business. He says about 10 fourth generation relatives will carry on the company's traditions, whether or not they are employed in the business.

Duda says of the company, "Ten years ago, vegetables were the moneymakers. In the past few years our real estate dealings have contributed. In the end it all works out even."

Duda also produces and markets sod in Florida and grows sugar cane and breeds cattle in Florida and Texas. In the mid-1990s, the family developed a shopping mall where it once grew celery and sod.

The company's real estate division, The Viera Co., develops residential and commercial properties throughout Florida, including about 11,000 acres of Duda-owned land in Brevard County adjacent to the St. Johns River and near I-95. This development will include retail operations, government buildings, churches, a synagogue and an elementary school.




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