By Kim Hoey
Special to Delaware Business Times
There isn’t a whole lot in business development that James “Jim” Waddington isn’t familiar with — sales, distribution, manufacturing, shipping, agriculture, marketing. Yeah, he’s done that.
So being the first full-time, paid executive director of the Kent County Economic Partnership office is kind of a perfect place for him.
It all started with his first job as a child helping his father deliver bottles of milk to people’s doorsteps through the family company, Waddington Dairy in Mannington Township, New Jersey. As he grew, that job changed, since, in Waddington’s words, “Customers kept dying and new residents didn’t want it.”
Still, with the help of Waddington, who partnered with his father as general manager and then CEO, the company endured, diversified and grew. It began distributing other drinks along with milk, and then bought an ice cream company to round out its products. Finally, it merged the dairy with a new company, Balford Farms, in 1996, and Waddington became the vice president of marketing. Eventually, though, he decided it was time to try something new.
He started a shipping company helping Jamaicans living in New Jersey send products home to families literally by the barrel full. Then, before it was cool, Waddington spent about 18 months in Cuba trying to set up a shipping and distribution line across that country because it looked like the administration in the U.S., at the time, might lift sanctions. The sanctions remained, and Waddington moved on, working in economic development for local governments. He landed in Kent County in 2012.
“He works extremely hard; he is extremely collaborative and he’s easy to work with,” said Bill Andrew, president of the Kent Economic Partnership board. “He’s very focused on Kent County to improve the manufacturing landscape here. He’s done an excellent job.”
Waddington’s breadth of knowledge allows him to seamlessly go from talking about heavy industrial production to growing heirloom tomatoes — his favorite heirloom tomatoes are Linskey and Cuostralee, by the way.
In his spare time, he likes motorcycles, spending time with his family, and true to his early life, farming — on a very small scale. He works his backyard garden with his favorite helper, his 5-year-old granddaughter.