Our Beginnings Patten Seed Company began with Robert L. Patten, a school teacher who opened a general store in Lakeland, Georgia, circa 1892. In the heart of downtown Lakeland, the store offered not only seed and fertilizer, but everything from horse collars to caskets. Robert’s only son, Lawson, took over his father’s store but continued to dabble in other agricultural side projects, including a seed-cleaning plant that has been in use since 1946.
The Lawson Family
Lawson had three children, one of them a daughter who married Bill Roquemore. Previously a World War II bomber pilot, Bill became involved in the Patten family’s business and was the entrepreneur, visionary, and “people person” who catapulted Patten Seed into the successful family business it is today.
The primary products of Patten Seed were originally Centi-Seed and Bermudagrass sprigs, though the company did supply sod on a smaller scale beginning in 1965. Due to urban growth, the demand for sod began to rise in the late 1960s. By 1980 sod became the primary product, signaling the creation of the Super-Sod brand.
Patten Seed Expands
The sod-centric product line caused Patten Seed to expand its reach outside Lakeland. The first expansion took place with the purchase of a farm in Fort Valley, Georgia, in 1979, followed by the 1984 acquisition of the Orangeburg, South Carolina, farm. 1984 also marked the opening of the first Super-Sod outlet in Atlanta, Georgia.
Though sod had been the primary focus of the business for a decade, the 1990 introduction of Zenith Zoysia seed marked another success in the seed business. The Patten Seed-owned Zenith brand is the only Zoysia grass variety available as booth seed and sod.
Patten Seed and Super-Sod continued to expand. The purchase of the Hendersonville farm was the grand entrance into the state of North Carolina in 1996. Decades later, involvement in North Carolina sod farming would increase with the acquisition of farms in Laurinburg and Robersonville in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
A Family Business
Bill’s son Jim followed in his father’s footsteps, along with Ben Copeland, Sr., and Ben Copeland, Jr., as the company grew. Both Copelands worked part time with the company throughout high school and college but joined Patten Seed Company full time in 1971 and 1994, respectively.
Today the Roquemores and Copelands run the privately held, family and employee-owned business of Patten Seed Company and its subsidiary Super-Sod. Under this leadership, the product offerings have expanded along with the number of stores across Georgia and The Carolinas.
In recent years, Ben Copeland, Jr., began developing a humus compost for use in the sod fields that lacked sufficient organic matter. The wild success of this organic compost led to the 2012 introduction of the Soil3 brand. Cubic yard BigYellowBags of the soil are now helping to improve lawns and gardens across the Southeast.