Made in South Georgia: Lee Container 1

Robert Varnedoe, left, and Joel Varnedoe at the Lee Container manufacturing facility in Homerville.

Celebrating 30 years as a family owned and operated business, Lee Container has become a national leader in the packaging industry.

Founded by Donald Lee in 1989, the company opened its first facility in Valdosta with three production lines to manufacture blow-molded plastics containers.

Today, with the production of more than 100 million containers a year, Lee Container serves customers in various markets including crop protection, lubricants, and industrial and garden chemicals.

After starting with a small building in Valdosta, the company moved in 1993 to a 100,000-square-foot facility located in Homerville, Clinch County. The strategic move allowed Lee Container to increase warehouse space and expand to 17 production lines.

With the company’s continued growth, in 2004 Lee Container purchased an adjacent warehouse bringing its total manufacturing and distribution space to 600,000-square-feet, and production capacity to more than 25 lines.

In 2012, Robert Varnedoe, formerly executive vice president of sales, succeeded Donald Lee as president of the company. Varnedoe, Lee’s son-in-law, had joined the company at its inception in 1989.

“We started with a small production line,” Varnedoe said. “Mr. Lee had worked at Brockway Standard in Homerville for 30 years, and he purchased the plastic blow-molding lines from them to start his business.”

In 2004, Lee Container opened a second manufacturing operation in Nacogdoches, Texas. The 105,000-square-foot facility is instrumental in serving Lee’s lubricant market within the Southwestern part of the U.S., as well as all the company’s primary crop protection market.

The company’s third manufacturing facility opened in 2007 at the former Rubbermaid plant in Centerville, Iowa. With this 660,00-square-foot facility, Lee Container can serve customers in the Midwestern part of the U.S., while benefiting from lower freight costs and shorter lead times, both important within the agricultural chemical industry.

“The expansions were very strategic to help us reach our customers in the Southeast and Midwest,” Varnedoe said. “The location of our facilities allows us to be 200 to 300 miles from our customers, that is important in the agricultural chemical industry.”

Varnedoe said having 1.4 million square feet of warehouse space is an advantage, especially within the packaging for agricultural chemicals.

Lee Container in Clinch County manufactures more than 100 million containers per year for various markets including crop protection, lubricants, and garden chemicals.

“We have a 30-year history of making good quality products,” Varnedoe said. “We have also continued to add warehousing space, which allows us to build inventory. By having the products ready when our customers need them, we can handle orders through instantaneous supply.”

With 80 percent of its market share in packaging agricultural chemicals, Lee Container has received numerous awards including the Chevron Texaco’s Crystal Eagle Award for “outstanding performance, excellent cooperation, and unequaled service.” Syngenta, a Swiss-based global chemical manufacturer, has recognized Lee Container with its Partners in Quality Award for nine consecutive years.

In 2014, BASF, a leading producer and marketer of chemicals and related products in North America, presented Lee Container with its Premier Partner Award.

Donald Lee passed away in 2014, but the company he founded continues as a family-owned business, and its corporate offices remain in South Georgia. Lee’s family members serve as part of the senior management team including his grandson, Joel Varnedoe, who graduated with a degree in packaging science from Clemson University.

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One thought on “Made in South Georgia: Lee Container

  • Ellen Norman Adams

    I’m so very proud of your accomplishment’s but most important I’m proud of who you are as a company and individuals. It’s an honor to be considered part of your family even though we aren’t kin. God has blessed me with our friendship and I’m thankful He has blessed you and your family through Lee Container.
    If you’ve done it for 30 years you must be doing something right.