The Story of White House FoodsWhite House Foods is a family owned company located in Winchester, VA. We have been processing apples and making quality apple products Since 1908. With a strong heritage and generations of traditions we take pride in expanding our orchards for the next generations. Take a look at our company history below.
Board, Armstrong and Company originated on the waterfront of Alexandria, VA by the founders Frank Armstrong Sr. and B. Fleet. In August, the original loads of NY State vinegar were repackaged. In 1909 the first plant in Alexandria, VA was built. Frank Armstrong Sr. organized National Fruit Product Company, Inc. on March 1, 1909. The young company began marketing its vinegar in glass packages which consumers enjoyed. In 1918, a second vinegar plant was built in Winchester, VA close to the local apple orchards in the area and 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 1913, the Alexandria plant was transferred to the Winchester plant.
Five companies were purchased resulting in adding plants in Glassboro, NJ Peach Glen, PA Atlanta, GA and Strasburg, VA. In addition, the Martinsburg, WV 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, apple butter and jelly were introduced in the market despite the Great Depression. National Fruit was impacted, however working with financial institutions including local banks prevented drastic problems of the depression era. The company's main offices moved from Washington, D.C. to Winchester, VA to reside at the old George Washington Hotel on Piccadilly Street. Then, in 1948, the building that held the main offices 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. With a new plant in Timberville, Virginia, the company began to process peaches in that facility. During the 1950's National Fruit was the first to raise Clingstone peaches for commercial use on its own orchards and at this time Frank Armstrong Jr. took over as President and Chairman of the Board. Bringing his father's quest for providing the consumer with pure quality product the White House brand label undergoes a major change in 20 years. After celebrating their 50th anniversary, the company purchased a former vegetable processing plant in Kent City, Michigan, located about 20 miles north of Grand Rapids. With acquisition of the Kent City Plant the total acreage of orchards owned by the company is near 2100 acres. 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 plant was opened in Lincolnton, North Carolina, which is located about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte. The plant produced major products and had on-site cold storage facilities and a large warehouse. This is the company's first facility in the Carolinas and continued automation of the manufacturing facilities continued with the installation of Atlas Pacific peelers, which peeled and cored apples at a much faster rate than the manually fed machines. A few years later, a new press house is built in Winchester with automated Vetter presses. New construction included offices for executives, a large open area for data processing and cubicle offices. National Fruit also purchased the adjunct building then owned by Shenandoah Apple Cooperative. In concurrence, 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 west. The White House brand label underwent major modifications such as using product photos in the vignette and the addition of the White House Heritage message. In 1996, the Timberville, Kent City and Delta facilities were closed bringing an end to peach processing. In addition, all apple processing was moved to the Winchester plant in the summer of 1998 and annual operations began. 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®.
Today, history is still being written in our community. We drive to annually grow our apple orchards to ensure we are using the best homegrown apples and continuing to foster our long term relationships with local apple growers.