Sorrell College professor demonstrates successful business practices for students with statewide award

Dr. Dewey Todd and his wife Annette have received the Retailer of the Year Bronze Award from the Alabama Retail Association for their family business.

Dr. Dewey Todd and his wife Annette have received the Retailer of the Year Bronze Award from the Alabama Retail Association for their family business.

Sorrell College of Business assistant professor and Assistant Dean Dr. Dewey Todd has been recognized by the Alabama Retail Association, but not for his work at Troy University.

Todd Farms, his family’s business in Headland, has been named Alabama Retailer of the Year for businesses with annual sales of $1 million and under. The company garnered a Bronze Award.

Located on Highway 431, the popular tourist attraction consists of a syrup-making mill, a general store, a restaurant (famous for its burgers and chicken salad), an RV park, special events pavilion, old-time barber shop, seed, feed and produce store, and an Amazon fulfillment business.  It is also the home of the “World’s Largest Syrup Bottle”, standing over 20 feet tall.

“We did well through the lock-down and over the last 18 months, and we have been blessed,” Todd said. “Our sales have stayed on par, we’ve lost no employees . . . and most of all, our customers have been phenomenal,” he said. “They really wanted to be sure our business made it.”

Todd added it was the combined efforts of his employees and especially his wife, Annette, who really deserve the praise for the award. Some 80 businesses were nominated to the association. Todd Farms’ nomination came from the Headland Chamber of Commerce. 

With responsibilities of managing the Sorrell School’s affairs on the Dothan, Montgomery and Phenix City campuses, Todd readily admits he can’t accept much of the credit for the award.

“I couldn’t do it all without my wife. She’s the one who makes it happen along with our employees,” he said, saying that his father, Mr. Joe Todd, along with his wife, Edria, handled syrup making duties for years, but are now fully retired.  Even so, with Mr. Joe’s contribution of knowledge and experience, they still raise the sugar cane and make the syrup by hand just as they have for generations.  The family continues to use original equipment and has a large display of antiques related to syrup making and farming.

And syrup making is a major deal for Todd Farms – the family’s been doing it since 1835.  His family settled here before Alabama was a state. In fact, it was Todd’s great, great, great-grandfather, Luke Simmons, who helped survey the state and established a trading post at Deer Stand Hill. When statehood rolled around, he was elected to represent the county and he urged the town be named in honor of his opponent in that first election (which was won on a coin flip following a tie), Alexander Troy, a former attorney general of North Carolina. 

Seven generations of Todds have produced syrup that is shipped nationally and available through Todd Farms’ website, along with other food and general store products, such as their famous Sweet Tea Jelly and Cane Syrup Coffee. The restaurant is open for lunch and boasts a selection of sandwiches and specialty burgers, such as the Big Dew Burger, featuring Todd’s signature Dew Sauce. It was a customer who once tapped them as the “Second-Best Hamburger in the World.”

“Known as a connoisseur of fine burgers, he finished his cheeseburger and I had to know what he thought,” Todd said. “He said it was the second-best hamburger in the world!  I asked where he found the first-best, and he responded, ‘I don’t know – I haven’t found it yet!’” “So I guess that meant it was pretty good.”

That story sums up the Todd Farms ethos: faith, family, outstanding employees and great customers.  The Todd’s are also proud Trojans!  Five family members (across three generations) working with Todd Farms today are graduates of Troy University.