Featured Article, History of The Viera Company, Viera, Florida

The Viera Company, Viera, Florida
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History of The Viera Company

Hopeful vision and faithful determination.

These ideals are quite literally the foundation upon which the Florida town of Viera was built. The master planned community, which is located just North of Melbourne and South of Cocoa, in Brevard County, is the realization of a lifelong dream.

Taking a great dream from a hope, to a plan, to fruition, requires the work and devotion of many people. Great minds with innovative ideas, good intentions and big ambitions can lead to inspired results, or be a recipe for disaster. For the mission of this community to succeed, all these factors had to be properly managed. So, The Viera Company was formed to be the masterminds and master developers of Viera. The name of the company and the town was quite deliberate, as the word viera is a popular name which means "faith" in the native Slovak language of Andrew Duda, the Duda family patriarch and founder of the parent company of The Viera Company.

The name Duda is somewhat synonymous with this 20,000-acre community. As well it should be, because it was the Duda family who first envisioned this community where proper land stewardship and old-fashioned values would converge to offer its residents an exemplary quality of life. They so whole-heartedly believed in this dream that they were first to donate land to this project and have continued to do so over the years. In fact, The Viera Company is wholly owned by the DUDA Company.

Andrew Duda migrated to this country in the early 1900s from the Eastern European country that is now known as Slovakia. With little more than a burning ambition and strong Christian convictions to his name, he purchased 40 acres of land. He believed that if he worked hard, treated his land wisely and conducted himself respectfully, he would reap the rewards.

Mr. Andrew Duda, The Viera Company
Mr. Andrew Duda (Source: duda.com)

He and his family started out humbly and eventually, in 1926 their strong work ethic paid off. Later, he founded the land development company, A. Duda & Sons. That company is now called DUDA and continues to be strictly family owned and operated. It is currently in its fourth generation of family leadership. Throughout the years, DUDA has continued to acquire land and put it to a variety of uses. Since acquiring the initial 40 acres of land in Florida, they have amassed over 45,000 acres throughout the United States, but it has not been an easy journey.

Andrew initially landed in Cleveland, OH in 1909 and worked wherever he could, but farming was his aspiration. He firmly believed that owning land and working it wisely, would be the key to his prosperity. Therefore, he was always on the lookout for agricultural opportunities. One of these hopeful opportunities brought him to the small Central Florida community of Slavia, just southwest of Oviedo. He invested in an Irish potato farm and enjoyed success almost immediately. It seemed he had made a wise decision to uproot his family and move South. However, that success was fleeting. The farm's production could not overcome high operational costs and it eventually failed.

Due to this setback, the family had to return to Cleveland. Discouraged but unwilling to give up, Andrew strove to hold fast to his vision. He had come to this country to pursue the American dream of freedom and opportunity. He longed to be able to support his family and thrive. He yearned to be free to practice his Christian faith without fear or restriction. With renewed determination, Andrew and his three sons, John, Andrew Jr., and Ferdinand, worked in a factory while they regrouped.

Bolstered with a revised plan, new strategies, and hard-earned savings, the family returned to Slavia in 1926, this time as celery farmers. Their crops and their farm thrived. A. Duda & Sons (or DUDA, as it is commonly called) was formed. The three sons later ran with the vision and added citrus and other agricultural commodities to company portfolio. In the 1970s, a third generation of sons took over the reins of the company. They continued to employ integrity in their business practices, maintained their faith in God and sought the wise counsel of trusted advisors, and in so doing, have expanded the company's interest and business holdings. The family still runs this "diversified land company" which now operates in locations throughout the world.

DUDA Management Team
DUDA Management Team (Source: duda.com)

The DUDA brand comprises various divisions that manage its vast agricultural, real estate and commercial enterprises, including:

Duda Farm Fresh Foods, the subsidiary responsible for the brand's fresh produce operations in Florida, California, Arizona, Michigan and Georgia. Its fresh fruit and vegetables are packaged under the Dandy brand.

Duda Ranches, a business unit which oversees the company's other agricultural divisions of sod, cattle, sugarcane and citrus.

A Commercial Properties branch that buys and sells other business properties under the collaborative oversight of DUDA Land Division and Viera Properties Management.

The Viera Company, itself a collective of the Viera Builders, Viera Realty, Viera Commercial Properties and The Duran Golf Club businesses, manages the real estate and community development endeavors. Its primary project has been the development of Community of Viera, FL.

Men and women, from third, fourth and fifth family generations currently work at DUDA. The 10-member Board of Directors is made up of six members of the Duda family and 4 non-family, business professionals. The Duda Family Council, is dedicated to maintaining accord and promoting the family mission to be, "One family growing together, making an eternal difference."

The family and the company's success was hard won and fraught with obstacles. At about 100 years in the making, it certainly was not immediate, but it has been uncompromising. Throughout the ups and downs, they have stuck to their mission, stood on their core values and instilled these in every facet of their business. Their core values are all deeply rooted in their spiritual beliefs and include: Faith in the Lord who richly blesses us all; Faith in the goodness of people; Stewardship of the land and its resources; and Strength from diversity. From these have risen the DUDA Mission to grow: Christian Faith and Business Integrity; Land Values and Vibrant Communities; Families, People and Relationships; Healthy Food Products; Sustainable Wealth and Balanced Financial Returns… for future generations.

Environmental stewardship, social responsibility and corporate philanthropy are fundamental philosophies of the company and can be evidenced in its conversation efforts, fair and ethical employment and business practices, and community support projects. A portion of its after-tax profits continue to be set aside for these works.

All of the Duda companies, enterprises and projects have been built upon the unwavering purpose of multiplying and sharing God's many blessings. Like Andrew Duda and his successors, the company is renowned for its quality, integrity and innovation. The Viera Company embodies these qualities and the community of Viera, Florida is the fruit of these ideals.

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