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From All-American to Ginner of the Year

Tackling a New Career Through Hard Work & Optimism

Guyle Roberson’s Story

by Blair White

It was not all that long ago that Guyle Roberson had his sights set on the NFL Draft. As fate would have it, he would later be drafted for a career he never imagined having on his resume. Today, Roberson serves as the CEO of Texas Producers Co-op in Sudan and Amherst, Texas. However, in 1982, he was an All-American offensive tackle – the first and only one for Lubbock Christian University’s football team.

“When I went to college, Lubbock Christian was starting this brand-new team,” Roberson said. “I had opportunities to walk on at Tech, Eastern New Mexico, West Texas A&M, and San Angelo, but I thought, if I go to Lubbock Christian, I will stand a good chance of starting on that team as a freshman and building something really nice. So August 4, 1979, was the first day of three-a-days.”

Having grown up in Amherst, Texas, Roberson did not stray far from home. He played defensive tackle for part of his career until his coach moved him to the offensive tackle position. At a towering 6’7”, he was the perfect fit for the position. Roberson proved his adaptability and was named to the All-American team his senior year. Throughout his football career at LCU, Roberson helped the team record 753 rushing yards and 1,685 passing yards.

“I had a great junior and senior year, and being named All-American was my highest honor,” he said. “I was very flattered about that.”

Unfortunately, the LCU football program was cut the following year, but Roberson made such an impact in the program that in 1990, he was inducted into the LCU Athletics Hall of Honor. Roberson was not quite ready to hang up his cleats after college. He began pursuing a professional football career, planning to make a living from his passion.

“I played four years at Lubbock Christian, and after that was done, I thought I might end up in a free-agent draft and try to continue my football career,” Roberson said. “I had a knee injury and had it worked on after the season, so I got an agent, went out to California to play in a minor league. I played one season there and ended up going to camp with the Houston Oilers. I obviously didn’t make the team there, but I wouldn’t have taken from that experience for anything. When I drove away from there, I was completely satisfied. I had done all I could, and it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Photo courtesy of Guyle Roberson

Even though his football career ended, Roberson continued to foster the relationships he made with his teammates, who are still his lifelong friends. He soon returned home to West Texas and began a 21-year career at Lubbock Power and Light. Roberson took a leap of faith when he agreed to the uncertainty of a gin-managing position, but he said it turned out to be one of his most fulfilling experiences. After Amherst Gin’s previous gin manager’s passing, Roberson’s brother, Randy, was quite adamant that he should apply for the position.

“About the third time, they called and said, ‘Are you not going to put in an application?’ I said, ‘I appreciate the offer, but I’ve got a great career here, and I know very little about the ginning industry.’ They said, ‘Well, put in an application anyway,’ so I did,” Roberson reminisced. “I’ll never forget the day they asked me to come in for an interview. I walked in, and over there was my pee-wee baseball coach, and over there was a farmer that had a son whom I played basketball with. I’d been gone about 30 years, but when I walked in there, it just seemed like another day. So, on May 8, I left Lubbock Power and Light at about noon, moved into my office over at Amherst about four o’clock that afternoon, and started a new career. That’s how I got into the ginning industry.”

Amherst and Sudan Co-op Gins merged in 2016 to become Texas Producers Co-op. Upon the merger, Roberson took on the position of CEO. Today, Texas Producers Co-op is a one-stop shop for farmers. From the agronomy department to the general store and even the barber shop, Roberson has found unique and innovative ways to add value to his producers’ cotton.

“If a guy wants to start farming and goes to the bank and says, ‘I need money to start farming,’ and they ask him where he is going to get all of his supplies, he can say there’s only one place: I’m going to call Texas Producers and get everything I need,” Roberson said proudly.

Even though Texas Producers has many facets of business and over 100 employees during ginning season, Roberson’s ultimate goal is to provide the best service possible.

“We don’t do anything halfway. I’ll never forget what my dad told me when I was out playing pee-wee baseball,” he said. “One day, I was out there and didn’t really want to be. I’ll never forget him saying, ‘If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Always remember that.’ I’ve focused on that in my association with all these businesses.”

Texas Producers’ Amherst location has a ginning capacity of 40 bales per hour, while the Sudan location can run 60 bales an hour. Roberson said his goal on the ginning side is to get the site operating in its most economical form while still preserving quality and value. Roberson also credits PCCA with keeping himself and his staff well informed on what is happening in the cotton market, and always being available for troubleshooting systems at the height of ginning season.

“PCCA has supported our growers by being a great co-op,” Roberson said. “Why not do business with yourself ? PCCA is a great asset. We lean on y’all a lot and are glad we are partners.”

Roberson recently received the Texas Ag Cooperative Council Ginner of the Year Award, one of the highest honors a gin manager can obtain. He has proven his worthiness of the award for many years, and his employees say he is most deserving.

Left to right: Duncan Welch, Guyle Roberson, Justin Bellar

“Guyle is the most welcoming and genuine man you will ever meet,” said Duncan Welch, Gin Operations Manager for Texas Producers. “He is always talking to someone and really getting to know them. He has this ability to converse and make a person feel comfortable and welcome. He is very patient and kind and always has the right thing to say. He can sit back and analyze a situation like I’ve never seen anyone do. When it’s this dry, and the glass is half empty, Guyle’s glass is always half full.”

“I look for a lot of characteristics when I think of a leader, and Guyle checks every one of those boxes,” said Justin Bellar, Agronomy Manager at Texas Producers. “He’s very concerned about employees and their families. He leads by example. He wouldn’t ask us to do anything he wouldn’t do. He requires us to do things with integrity, transparency, and accountability.”

“Guyle has brought in some farmers that we may not have gotten had we not done the merger back in 2016,” explained Bryan Baker, Board President for Texas Producers. “He’s brought in some guys that have been very beneficial to this co-op, and he’s even brought some leadership to some departments that have made us better.”

 

Guyle Roberson (left), Bryan Baker (right)

Roberson was surprised with the award at the TACC Annual Meeting in March of this year. His methodical leadership has propelled the gin to new successes each year, and his community and industry involvement showcases his servant’s heart.

“Normally the people that receive that honor have been in the industry since they were in diapers,” Roberson joked. “That’s the way I looked at it. It never crossed my mind that I would even be nominated. The honor was great. The support was a feeling I cannot describe – I wish I could have that feeling once a day for the rest of my life. I’m flattered, and I’m humbly honored.”

Roberson has worked with regional cooperatives PYCO Industries, PCCA, and Farmers Cooperative Compress, and has served on boards of cotton industry organizations such as TACC and the Texas Cotton Ginners Association. Locally, he supports the youth in his community and serves on the Amherst school board.

“We were raised that way. You do what you can for your fellow people,” Roberson said. “It’s a great feeling. People come together, and they support each other, and that’s what keeps a lot of these small communities going and thriving.”

Even though Roberson finds great joy in his work, he is not all work and no play. If you’re a West Texas local, you’ve probably heard Roberson sing with his band at a community function.

“I started playing and singing when I was about 12 years old. I’d just get up and sing by myself and play the guitar. When I went to college, I kind of put music on the back burner because I was going to be a football player,” he explained. “After my football career was over, I picked up the guitar again and put a band together. I’d play somewhere almost every weekend.”

Roberson’s first band was Guyle Roberson and You’ll Never Guess. The tongue-in-cheek name made patrons laugh when they called to ask what band was playing that night. “You’ll Never Guess” was always the answer. After a while, he changed their name to Guyle Roberson and the Eight Second Ride.

“I named it Guyle Roberson and the Eight Second Ride because we were not just country; we were two-stepping, rock-n-roll, country, with a twist,” he said. “I still play today.”

Today, you can find Roberson in his gin office, out visiting farmers, or at a venue with a guitar and microphone. The rhythm of agriculture and the lessons he learned on the gridiron are the soundtrack of his life, impacting countless people across the High Plains.