Hi, it’s Clay, founder of 1 DOG Ventures.
If you had asked me anything about citrus before 2015, I would’ve responded that I liked a glass of orange juice every morning, extra pulp. But here I am, three short years later, the owner of the very first citrus-only commercial nursery in Georgia.
In X year, I heard about Dr. Hanna and his work on cold hardy citrus with the University of Georgia (Go dawgs!) in Tifton, and a seed was planted (metaphorically, of course). You see, we had a large greenhouse sitting empty and unused on the farm from the days before the tobacco buy out in the late 90s when I ran a large-scale tobacco operation. It felt like God was saying that this was something that I should pursue.
From that moment, the idea of 1 DOG Ventures was born. People often ask about the name 1 DOG Ventures, wondering if we raise dogs or have a family pet that we just really love. I laugh and respond that the name 1 DOG came about because it’s God first spelled backwards, and that’s a daily reminder of how I want to live my life and run my business. We strive to put God first in everything we do.
Anyway, we reached out to Dr. Hanna, and we hit it off right away. We then started the process of retrofitting the old tobacco greenhouse to grow citrus rootstock. Ultimately in 2017, 1 DOG exclusively licensed the three new cold-tolerant citrus cultivars (Sweet Frost tangerine, Grand Frost lemon,and Pink Frost grapefruit) that Dr. Hanna developed. 2018 was the year that we really started selling on a commercial scale, and we have plans to expand even more in 2019.
Although I’m the founder of 1 DOG, none of this be possible without my incredible family, who have been and continue to be supportive of this venture that started with only an idea. I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to each of them. They are all pictured above (Me, left, Kyli, Clayton, Henry, Marilyn, Cuy, Kaye, and Madison).
My wife, Kaye, and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. In that time, we’ve been blessed with four amazing kids, who are only responsible for half of the gray hairs that I have. I can say without exaggeration that 1 DOG would not have ever taken off without her. She was my encourager from the beginning and has been a utility player since then doing everything from payroll to printing tags for plants in the greenhouse. Not to mention, she’s a lifelong Special Education teacher.
My parents, Henry and Marilyn, have also never wavered in their support of me. On good days, you might find them checking on us and the plants. They also serve as official citrus taste testers of new varieties we grow in the greenhouse. We’ve eaten quite a few lemon meringue pies in the past few years (not that I’m complaining).
My oldest son (and namesake), Clayton, is a full-time partner in our work at 1 DOG. He started his own irrigation and land development company in 2016, but in 2018 turned most of the work over to his business partner in order to focus on our greenhouse expansion efforts. He works harder than most of the people I know and is the family’s resident comedian.
My oldest daughter, Kyli, is a Director of Admissions with Teach For America, an education non-profit. In her spare time, she supports with our operations and tries to keep Clayton and me in line, which, trust me, is a task.
Madison is in residency as a doctor at Georgia South Residency in Moultrie, Georgia. As if being in residency weren’t busy enough, she constantly fields the entire family’s medical complaints. (Kyli and Madison are actually twins, but Kyli’s older by 23 minutes, and if you know them, you can tell it!)
My youngest son, Cuy, is 15 going on 25. He’s still in high school, but on the weekends you can find him working with his older brother. He’s mainly just looking forward to his 16th birthday when he’ll finally be licensed to drive some wheels of his own.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and supporting us! We hope our growth will continue to lift up others as well!