DW Montgomery & Company was formed by David W. Montgomery Sr., Paul Montgomery and David W. Montgomery Jr. in 1978. Prior to establishing the company, David Sr. was a managing partner of Stevenson, Montgomery & Clayton a leading U.S. sugar brokerage firm that at one time represented thirty U.S. beet and cane producers in the U.S. in addition to importing refined white sugar from various producers around the world. The company was a member of the NY Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange in NY and was an Associate Member of the United Terminal in London. The firm specialized in industrial sugar hedging for many major food companies in addition to their role in white sugar sales.
With the advent of high fructose corn syrup, which lead to the total loss of the soft drink bottling business in the early 1980s, the company turned its focus from refined white sugar to specialty sugars as a means to diversify from a declining market for white sugar. Many U.S. beet and cane processors were either consolidated or closed their businesses during this turbulent period.
In 1978, DW Montgomery & Company formed a joint venture with Edward Billington & Sons of Liverpool England and formed Montgomery Sugars, Inc. Billington was already involved in the sourcing and marketing of “unrefined sugars” in Europe and wanted to expand the trading into the U.S. market. In these early marketing days, the natural products industry was in its very early stages of development. The sugars that were introduced into the U.S. were: Demerara, Turbinado and Muscovado sugars that were being sourced primarily from Guiana and Mauritius.
DW Montgomery, like most U.S. analysts, forecast that the U.S. would become self sufficient in sugar production and consumption when the U.S. government elected to place domestic–produced sugar into the Farm Bill in 1982. At the time, off shore imports accounted for 4 million tons of U.S. consumption but the trend was quickly diminishing the volume of imports, thus the company embarked on an effort to produce specialty sugars in the US. After three unsuccessful years of trying to produce direct consumption sugars at a mill in Louisiana, the company turned its efforts to a new approach with a larger producer in Florida which was Florida Crystals owned by the Fanjul family of Palm Beach, Florida.
Despite many mutual assurances that a direct consumption sugar could be successfully produced at the sugar mill in Florida, the first year’s efforts were again not successful. Remaining U.S. producers of refined white sugar did not welcome the concept of Florida Crystals producing a “milled cane sugar.” Montgomery’s brokerage business was greatly reduced and David and Paul Montgomery left the family business to pursue other interests in the sugar industry. Paul went to work for Refined Sugars and Syrups, in Yonkers, NY as a National Account Manager for three years and then onto Malt Products & Molasses Company again, as National Accounts Manager. David became an employee of Florida Crystals as Director of Marketing. Shortly thereafter, David III, upon finishing his college degree in business, was hired by Dave, Sr. to assist him in managing the brokerage business coupled with the continuation of importing specialty sugars from Mauritius.
David Jr. continued to work with the senior management at Florida Crystals to produce a “milled cane sugar” for direct consumption and, in 1998, the first “milled cane sugar” was introduced to the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, CA. At the time, sugar as an ingredient was not well received by the natural products industry. Fruit juice concentrates, honey, and rice syrup were the preferred and more politically correct sweeteners.
A marketing effort was assembled by Florida Crystals in order to educate the natural products industry on the benefits of sugar. In addition, it became apparent there was a need to differentiate conventional refined white sugar from the “milled cane sugar” being produced by Florida Crystals. Thus the term “evaporated cane juice” (ECJ) was developed and brought to the industry. Three years later, ECJ was the leading sweetener ingredient in natural foods.
While good results were achieved in the marketplace, it was also obvious that the natural products industry was looking for organic sugar as a means to certify their finished goods as organic under the National Organic Program governed by the USDA. Another company, Wholesome Sweeteners was actively developing the production of organic sugar in Paraguay and approached Dave, Jr. to join the company as its president in order to cultivate the production in South America and to market organic sugar in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Sensing a unique opportunity, David joined Wholesome and embarked on a multiyear effort to make Wholesome one of the leading suppliers of organic and natural sugars in the world.
In 2002, Wholesome Sweeteners was sold to Imperial Sugar and one year later Imperial filed for protection under U.S. bankruptcy laws. Dave, Jr., under authorization by Imperial management, facilitated the sale of the majority share (55%) of Wholesome to Edward Billington & Sons in order to maintain the rapid growth of the company. Shortly after the sale, new management was brought into Wholesome and David Jr. decided to rejoin the family business with his brother Paul who had also joined Wholesome the year before. As the demand increased for organic and natural sugars, Paul and David built an organization to best represent the supplier and the end user. This has led to a successful and profitable business which provides market expertise, contractual negotiations, and logistical proficiency. Their brother, Andrew joined DW Montgomery & Co., in 2010, after many years of project development and marketing in the pharmaceutical sector.
We are sad to say that David, Sr., passed away February 12, 2012, and will be missed for his many years in the sugar industry and passion and love for his family and the many friends and colleagues he met along his life journey. We are indebted to his loyalty and work ethics, and are committed to carrying on his legacy.