Board, Armstrong and Company was established on the waterfront of Alexandria, Viriginia when Frank Armstrong Sr. and B. Fleet Board purchased cider vinegar business of Semmes, Kelly, Board Company. The first shipments of repackaged New York State vinegar were made in August. The first manufacturing plant was built in Alexandria a year later.
Upon the death of Mr. Board, Frank Armstrong Sr. organized National Fruit Product Company, Inc. on March 1. Under Armstrong's leadership, the young company began marketing its vinegar in glass packages, which consumers readily accepted.year later.
A second vinegar plant, similar to the Alexandria facility, was built in Winchester, Virginia to take advantage of the numerous apple orchards located in the area. In 1918, the company began processing other apple products, improving upon known methods by increasing from four pounds of apples to over six pounds in a #10 can.
Another vinegar plant was opened in Martinsburg, West Virginia, followed by a fourth plant in Waynesboro, Virginia in 1921. In July of 1925, the Alexandria plant was destroyed by fire and was not rebuilt, with production needs transferred to Winchester.
This marked the beginning of period of expansion. Five companies were purchased resulting in adding plants in Glassboro, New Jersey, Peach Glen, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Georgia, and Strasburg, Virginia. In addition, the Martinsburg plant grew through the addition of fruit pectin and apple juice lines.
Around this time, apple sauce became a major product at the Winchester Plant. In addition, the company began to produce and market apple butter and apple jelly.
The country was in the midst of the Great Depression, which also affected National Fruit. Prior to this time, the company relied on small banks in communities where the plants were located. Afterwards, large banking institutions in different financial centers were used to avoid the banking problems of the depression era.
The General Office of the company is moved from Washington, D.C. to Winchester. The old George Washington Hotel on Piccadilly Street housed the Offices for a period of time. In 1948, the building that still houses the General Office was opened across the street from the Winchester Plant.
Prisoners of war were utilized in businesses throughout the country to help alleviate the tight labor market due to World War II. At National Fruit, prisoners were used in the Winchester, Strasburg, and Martinsburg plants.
Taking over a plant in Timberville, Virginia, the company began to process peaches in that facility during 1950. National Fruit was the first to raise Clingstone peaches for commercial use on its own orchards.
Frank Armstrong Jr. took over as President and Chairman of the Board. Working in various capacities with the company for years prior to his promotion, he pledged to continue his father's quest for providing the consumer with a pure quality product.
The White House brand label undergoes a major change, its first in about two decades. Significant changes included the apple being placed outside the frame of the vignette, and the product name placed inside.
The company celebrates a milestone by achieving their 50th year anniversary. At the time, the company had six plants: Winchester, Timberville, and Strasburg, Virginia, Martinsburg, West Virginia, Glassboro, New Jersey, and Atlanta, Georgia.
Expanding into the midwest for the first time, the company purchased a former vegetable processing plant in Kent City, Michigan, located about 20 miles north of Grand Rapids. Taking advantage of the large apple crop in the local area, the plant produced its first product in the following year.
The Agricultural Operations of National Fruit was expanded with the purchase of a 365 acre apple orchard in Timberville, Virginia, increasing the total acreage of orchards owned by the company to about 2100.
Frank Armstrong III assumed control of the company upon his promotion to President. Joining the company in 1954 working in the maintenance department, he served in many different departments and capacities prior to taking over as President.
Another processing plant was opened in Lincolnton, North Carolina, which is located about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte. The plant produced apple sauce, apple juice, and vinegar, and had on-site cold storage facilities and a large warehouse. This is the company's first facility in the Carolinas, and takes advantage of the large local apple crop.
Continued automation of the manufacturing facilities continued with the installation of Atlas Pacific peelers, which peeled and cored apples at a much faster rate then the manually fed machines previously used. A few years later, a new press house is built in Winchester with automated Vetter presses.
After about a year of construction, the work for the expansion and renovation of the General Office was completed. New construction included offices for executives, a large open area for data processing and a snack bar with an adjoining balcony. In addition, fabric covered wall panels were added to the older section, forming cubicle offices.
Shenandoah Apple Cooperative, located adjacent to the Winchester Plant, was purchased by the company. The purchase increased production and warehousing capacity for the Winchester facility. In conjunction, the Atlanta and Martinsburg plants were closed, leaving the company with four processing plants.
Skyland Food Products was brought into the company as a fully owned subsidiary. The Delta, Colorado based company enabled National Fruit to gain a marketing and sales foothold in the western United States.
The White House brand label underwent major modifications, its first major revision in over three decades. Major changes included using product photos in the vignette and the addition of the White House Heritage message. The new look positioned the company's products as fresh and nutritional.
Peach processing was stopped, which marked the beginning of five years of consolidation and restructuring by the company. In 1996, the Timberville and Delta facilities were closed, followed by the sale of the Kent City Plant in 1998. In addition, all apple processing was moved to the Winchester plant in the summer of 1998, as operations changed from seasonal to year-round. In conjunction, millions were spent upgrading lines and installing new equipment.
After 98 years, the Armstrong Family ownership transferred to the Gum Family. From one family operation to another, it remains a family run company with family values, traditions, and atmosphere. These are the traits that it takes to fully understand and appreciate our customers as families who deserve the quality and security synonymous with the White House brand. David Gum, being a long time employee of White House Foods and a farmer himself, appreciates the home grown and canning experience we hope you can "taste" with White House. Perhaps better put, as we at the White House family would say, "From Our House to Yours...White House"