Ocala and the greater Marion County area are, of course, most famous for the equine industry and our long history of all things horse.  However, it might surprise even residents to find out there are some other powerhouse industries for which we’re becoming rather well-known and increasingly sought out.

There’s no question that the equestrian identity of this area creates a certain momentum and infrastructure. The central geography of Marion County is also an attractive element for industry, agriculture, and manufacturing. Plus, natural beauty is a beacon for tourism and recreation.

While horses are the lifeblood of the region, you might be surprised to find out what else is made in Marion County. Let’s take a look around and discover Ocala from a different perspective:

Manufacturing and Distribution

Signature Brands

Caramel coated popcorn
You might not think you know who Signature Brands is, but you almost certainly have some of their products in your pantry: Betty Crocker, PAAS, McCormick, and Cake Mate are just a few of the brands in their arsenal. Then there’s the popcorn – Signature makes three wildly popular flavors that are packaged in hardy tins for easy gift-giving and which have 80% of the market cornered in popcorn alone. With two locations in Ocala – one for dessert/decoration products and a newly-expanded popcorn facility – the company is on track to producing 10 million tins of popcorn per year, and is investing in tripling its manufacturing capacity at the cake decoration plant over the next seven years. That’s a lot of snacking.


E-ONE is an Ocala original, created as Emergency One in 1974 by Robert Wormser, who pioneered an aluminum truck design in his garage. It was just a tiny little operation at first; all Wormser wanted to do was make lighter, more efficient vehicles for emergency responders. Today the company designs and builds fire and rescue vehicles for clients all over the world, including North, Latin, and South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. They also manufacture aerial ladders, platforms, industrial tanks, pumps and tankers, and aircraft rescue/firefighting vehicles – all of it headquartered here in Ocala!
A man using a tool on metal and sparks are flying out.

Cardinal Glass

A home with beautiful windows
Hurricanes are kind of a staple – albeit a warily accepted one – of Florida and Gulf Coast weather each year. Cardinal LG and Cardinal IG are subsidiaries of Cardinal Glass, with one plant based in Ocala specializing in producing laminated glass specifically engineered for hurricane safety and protection, plus a new plant that produces energy-efficient insulated glass.

When LG moved to the region, they expanded their original warehouse three times – from 250K to 400K sq ft – so when the insulated glass division was built, they knew they would need another 400K sqft plant to accommodate production. They also have an LG technology/R&D facility nearby. The Florida locations serve all of North America, but most of their product is distributed primarily within the State of Florida, and the company as a whole is one of the top suppliers of laminated, tempered, coated, insulating, and float glass and windows worldwide.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest defense contractor in aerospace, defense, weapons systems, security and tech, with global interests and locations and approximately 115,000 employees. The majority of LM’s revenue comes from military and defense work – to the tune of around $38 Billion per year. Half the company’s sales are to the US Department of Defense, and they also contract for several other government agencies, including the Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, and NASA.

The Ocala plant was established in 1970 and currently employs 1,449 people, providing systems assembly and production of missiles and fire control systems, as well as weapons and tactical systems for F-35 Lightning II fighters, Apache and Sniper aircraft. They’re also working to assist the US military to achieve the goal of transitioning to renewable energy sources and become 25% green by 2025.

An engineer working on a project.


A cat and dog sitting together.
If you have a pet, have ever had a pet, or you have friends with pets (or farm animals) – you’ve heard of Chewy. Based in Plantation, Florida, Chewy is one of the largest online suppliers of pet products in the US; everything from pet food, toys, medicines, treats, and crates –  plus specialty bird, reptile, and equine products. It’s a juggernaut; founded in 2011, it was purchased by PetSmart in 2017 and separated again in 2020. The Ocala Fulfillment Center is one of six locations in the US, providing up to 700 new jobs for people in the region. Like other companies, Chewy chose Ocala for its location because it was easily accessible for distribution in the southeast and opened the 600,000 sq.ft facility in 2018.


Federal Express, internationally known as FedEx, is recognized for being one of the first major shipping/delivery companies to offer customers overnight air service. Starting in 1971 in Little Rock, Arkansas, the company became a juggernaut of corporate communications, earning $1Billion in revenue by 1983 and practically writing the blueprint for similar services who came along later. It’s the 5th largest company on the planet headquartered in the US, with 547,000 employees, assisting as a contractor for the US Government and the USPS and has multiple divisions and locations all over the world.

The company’s ground shipping division had a significant increase in volume over a 10-year period, so they needed a centrally-located distribution hub to complement and support the Orlando operations. A new, $170 Million, 580,000 sq. ft. facility was built in Ocala, with additional space for a 200,000 sq.ft. build-out if it became necessary. The site is located conveniently along the major highway arteries between Atlanta, Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami, and can also be easily accessed using the East/West corridor between the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts.

A fedex airplane taxiing on the runway.

Small Business

Katya Vineyards

A person holds black grapes on the vine.
This is a place where you can relax and enjoy old-world elegance with none of the snobbery to stress you out. Katya Vineyards offers a classy and cosmopolitan take on European food and wine that invites guests into a new perspective and encourages them to broaden their gastronomic horizons. You don’t have to be a devout foodie to fully immerse in an intense, four-course meal that is at once complex and uncomplicated, creating a fun experience with food. Katya created a loyal following with their old-world character and philosophy and are a popular venue for parties, events, and celebrations. They’re also an enthusiastic leader in several local community events and organizations, as well as supporters of regional agriculture. They grow their own grapes right in Central Florida, which is as beneficial for viticulture as it is for horse breeding, with its temperate climate and rich limestone soil.

Ocala Breeders Feed and Supply

As a major equestrian hub, Ocala has a growing and substantial infrastructure built around the horse industry, and that includes major supply and feed distribution. We get a lot of horses here, and agriculture is extremely important as well, so local businesses like OBFS support the industries that are the backbone of the region and keep it robust.
They provide fresh feed, grains, hay and hay cubes, bedding, livestock equipment, and other pet foods to online customers and retail feed stores across the region, as well as animal health products, sporting goods, grooming and tack supplies.
Stacks of round bales of hay.

Seminole Feed

A pretty reddish brown horse.
In business since 1934 in Ocala, Seminole Feed is a family-owned company that manufactures and distributes fixed-formula horse feed from the mill right in the heart of downtown. All of their feed is all-natural, free of medications and additives, and is specifically formulated to give the best nutrition possible with low-starch premium food. Seminole distributes throughout the Southeast within the company’s growing dealer network. They also sell a variety of forage food such as alfalfa, timothy, and forage cubes and pellets.


Ocala is one of the top 25 fastest growing regions in the country, and the greater metro area ranks in the top of the nation’s housing market (we did a blog about this!). So, it follows that there’s a lot of stuff being built for people to live in, work, and play.

The housing boom has seen a significant increase in new homes and 55+ communities, plus infrastructure and commercial properties that are new construction or expansions. Companies like DR Horton, Stentiford Construction, Triple Crown Homes, Lennar Homes, and Boutwell Construction are busily at work filling the demand.

A builder working on a house.