Though Wes Cumbie did not grow up on a farm, he has been surrounded by and involved in agriculture for most of his life. The small, central Florida town where Cumbie grew up, Apopka, is known as the Indoor Foliage Capital of the World. Like many other young people did then, as a teenager, Cumbie and friends worked in nearby Zellwood in the fruit and vegetable fields. When it was time to choose a college major, he naturally gravitated to agriculture.
Thanks to an athletic scholarship, Cumbie began his studies at Western Kentucky University. However, when his football career ended abruptly because of an injury, a visit to some friends from home who were then studying in Auburn’s College of Agriculture helped him decide where he would land next.
Cumbie graduated with his bachelor’s in agricultural business and economics in 2000 and went to work—again, alongside friends from home—at White Oak Plantation outside Auburn as a hunting guide. His employer there, also an Apopka native, encouraged Cumbie to pursue a master’s degree by agreeing to keep Cumbie on the payroll as long as he was in school. Cumbie completed the degree in agricultural economics in 2005.
During his time at White Oak Plantation, Cumbie built his professional network, and his first job post-grad school was a result of one of those connections. Johnny Adams, executive director of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, hired Cumbie to serve AP&EA as marketing and membership director.
His experience there set the stage for him to move into the role of development director for the College of Agriculture, then, in 2011, on to his current role in sales and marketing with Alabama-based Davis Lee Companies.
Cumbie works in sales and marketing for Lee Energy Solutions and AlaTrade Foods, two members of the Davis Lee Companies family. Lee Energy Solutions produces and supplies wood pellets and wood pellet heaters to the poultry and horticulture industries. AlaTrade is a further processer of poultry products with three locations in Alabama.
Though down-time is rare, when it does come around, Cumbie enjoys working for his wife, Emily, who runs a business from their home outside Auburn. The Po’ Man Grill company, which she started in the couple’s barn a few years back, sells a patented trashcan-style smoker grill and, he says, is his wife’s “baby.”
“Back in my undergrad days, Dr. [Bill] Hardy made an impression on everybody. He was so hands-on. He connected the real world of agriculture to the classroom, I think better than anybody who ever taught me. He knew the poultry industry. He knew ag law. He knew it all.”