Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber honors Belmont Peanuts

Published 10:00 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce’s 70th Annual Meeting took place Thursday, March 14, in front of a large crowd gathered at The Hubs Vine, and the event featured the celebration of Belmont Peanuts as the chamber’s 2023 Business of the Year.

Chamber President Marshall Rabil said, “Tonight is a celebration of our community and the businesses that drive our economy, and we have a lot to be proud of. 

“One business in particular is the star of the show tonight,” he added. “Belmont Peanuts and the Marks family represent our community extremely well, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to introduce them as our 2023 Business of the Year.”

This drew loud applause from the crowd on hand.

Then Rabil shared some perspective on Belmont as director of sales and marketing and co-owner of the Hubbard Peanut Company.

“Being in the peanut business myself, I have a decent understanding of what they are doing and how they represent Southampton County at home, but also across the country,” he said. “It’s remarkable — you can find Belmont Peanuts at many specialty food stores, as well as retailers like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and many homes across the country that order their delicious Virginia-type peanuts directly off of their website.”

He said it has been amazing to see the specialty peanut industry develop over the last 70 years.

“The specialty peanut business has become representative of our region,” he said. “It has employed hundreds of people and has given us something to celebrate. It’s one of Virginia’s greatest exports, and I’m proud of what we’ve done, and I’m proud of what Belmont has built.”

Rabil then addressed the cultural impact Belmont has had in Southampton County and the area in general.

“It’s also been a lot of fun to see Belmont’s expansion in the creation of their community center at the Belmont Deli,” he said, referring to the Belmont Peanuts Gourmet Deli and Specialty Shop at 22420 Southampton Parkway in Courtland. “Their summer concert series is a highlight for me, and I’m looking forward to a few evenings out there this summer. Before Belmont, where could we grab a beer and a bite in Southampton County?”

He then noted that the most important aspect of Belmont Peanuts and the Hubbard Peanut Company, for him, is the fact that they are now working together.

“We’ve been competitors since they started their business in 1993, and we still are, but we both recognize that we are stronger when we are working together,” he said. “This past fall, they cooked their peanuts, and we covered them in chocolate. 

“Instead of them shipping them to Georgia or Pennsylvania or purchasing other peanuts in Chicago, like some of our other competitors do, they made the 11.8-mile trip to The Hubs Vine so we could produce fresh peanuts for them in small batches and eliminate some of those shipping expenses,” he continued, noting that this demonstrated “coopetition,” defined as cooperating with competitors, which he said is the way he prefers to work. 

“And hopefully this partnership showcases to our community that collaboration is important and can be a win-win for all parties,” he said.

Brenda Roberts, district director for U.S. Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-VA, read a letter from Kiggans to Belmont and the Marks family, congratulating them on the chamber honor.

State Sen. Emily Jordan, R-Isle of Wight, presented a commendation from the Senate of the commonwealth of Virginia, congratulating Belmont Peanuts for its Business of the Year award.

Accepting the commendation was Belmont Peanuts co-owners Patsy and Bob Marks.

Patsy, who founded the company, then shared some remarks before Rabil presented her with the chamber award.

“What a special night for us,” she said. “First, I’d like to thank the chamber for all the tireless work that goes into supporting our area businesses, and congratulations to you on the 70th anniversary. What a great accomplishment. We feel really privileged to join in with you on the celebration tonight.”

She thanked Hubs Peanuts for hosting the event.

“What an incredible honor it is for Belmont Peanuts to have been voted the 2023 Business of the Year and to be here tonight to celebrate with each of you — our team, our friends, our family and our community,” she said. “What started out as a small request (to start a peanut company) from my husband Bob has transformed into something much bigger than ourselves. We are grateful and so blessed by God’s goodness for the shared journey that we have traveled.”

She said that back in September 1993, Belmont was just a brochure and a small mailing list with a mission of becoming a true business. 

She recently looked at the company’s historical timeline published on its website,

“I must say it took me back in time, reminiscing and actually shedding a few tears — I think tears of amazement — thinking of the joys, the hard work, the amazing hurdles that we have overcome from the very beginning until now,” she said. “It’s been such a privilege for Bob and me to look back over those past 30 years. Our journey with Belmont has taken our family from the beginning of 1993 to today where Bob and I are beaming with pride thinking of how each of our children have returned home to join the business.”

Robert Marks IV joined Belmont in 2012 and is now president of the company, Megan Marks Harrell joined in 2015 as vice president of sales and marketing, and Kelly Marks Russell joined in 2017 and is vice president of operations and food safety.

Before she concluded her remarks, Patsy took time to recognize several members of the Belmont team that were present at the meeting.

Before the chamber meeting concluded, Rabil handed over the gavel to Will Holt, who was introduced as the new president of the chamber.