By Lyndy Stone
Associated Cotton Growers (ACG) continues to reach milestones. The 26-year- old coop north of Crosbyton, TX, ginned its one-millionth bale on Oct. 5, 1999.
“I think it’s quite an accomplishment,” says Donny Wheeless, assistant manager for the past 14 years. He believes customer loyalty contributed to the gin’s accomplishment. Manager Randy Arnold agrees.
“We have lots of long-term customers who are here with us through the thick and the thin,” says Arnold, who has headed the coop for five years.
The record-setting bale was produced on the C.R. Marsh farm. Marsh, a farmer for about 30 years, was informed of the event after it happened. He attributes ACG’s desire to remain on the industry’s forefront for its handling of so many bales.
“This gin was started in a time when mergers and consolidation were unheard of,” said Randy Arnold.
“They’re pretty progressive. Anything that’s new, they’re trying,” Marsh says. The coop, which has ginned an average of 53,000 bales per year the last five years, was only 1,300 bales shy of the record when its 1998 season ended.
Termed a “super-gin,” ACG began in 1973 as Crosbyton, Wake and McAdoo cooperative gins merged into one. The purpose of the merger was to enhance the grower’s ability to make a profit by increasing volume. This mission was enhanced by the coop working with PCCA to create its own marketing pool and to test what later became the common practice of moduling cotton to separate the harvesting and ginning functions.
When Associated Cotton Growers opened, it was the largest cotton gin in the world. Still one of the largest gins on the South Plains, ACG has the ability to gin up to a thousand bales per day.
“That’s about the limit on our production for the size of this gin,” Arnold says. “Any expansion will have to be other than production.” Arnold attributes the gin’s continued strength and guidance from its board of directors to its ability to reach the one-millionth bale.
“This gin was started in a time when mergers and consolidation were unheard of,” Arnold says. “People laughed at them for trying it. That shows the leadership that was in this.” He adds that ACG’s Board of Directors remained intact for 22 years. The son of G. B. Morris, one of the original board members and producer of the first bale ginned at ACG, sits on the current board.
“It makes the manager’s job a lot easier when you have that kind of leadership,” Arnold explains.
Arnold feels the innovative spirit of ACG’s early leaders helped develop the cooperative into the successful operation it is today. One task the founders performed was setting up a base capital credit plan. At the time, only one or two other cooperatives in the United States had such a plan.
“To me that was just quite an accomplishment,” Arnold says. ACG has experienced much success in its relatively short life.
With the endurance of its leadership and pioneering zeal, ACG should be ready to face the coming millennium with optimism. Commentator congratulates Associated Cotton Growers on its accomplishment.