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Top peach basket maker turns 75, and the old ways still work best

Terry Roof, president of Roof Basket Works, shows one of the many types of baskets the company produces. Roof is the son of the company’s founders.
Roof Basket Works, a 75-year-old manufacturer in Lexington, S.C., produces peach baskets largely by hand.

Roof Basket Works has been quietly manufacturing baskets for peaches and other produce for 75 years. The company is one of the largest peach basket manufacturers in the U.S. and serves customers throughout the country, but primarily in the major Southern peach-growing states of South Carolina and Georgia.

Using wood from poplar trees grown in South Carolina, Roof Basket Works produces about 3 million baskets of all types each year. The company, founded in 1946, continues to be owned and operated by members of the Roof family. Roof Basket Works’ success largely depends on the state of the peach crop in South Carolina and Georgia. A strong crop translates to a strong spring and summer of basket production.

The company produces the baskets largely by hand, with the assistance of vintage equipment. Key employees have worked at the Lexington, S.C., company for decades. Roof Basket Works specializes in producing diamond-weave baskets, the type commonly seen at roadside peach stands around the Southeast. Considered by many to be the hardest basket to make, diamond-weave baskets are also the most labor intensive. They continue to be in high demand.

Terry Roof, a son of the founders, has been working at the company for more than 55 years, and he still enjoys coming to work every day.

“I like creating a product out of a natural resource like a tree,” he said. “No two trees are alike and therefore no two baskets are alike. I like working for and with agriculture. They are good hardworking people and we all take a gamble every year, especially 2020.”

TAGS: Fruit
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