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Dollars and Sense

CalculatorPCCA’s Accounting Department  Watches the Bottom Line

By Lynette Cockerell

PCCA’s accounting department daily faces the daunting task of tracking all of the monetary information for every department in the cooperative’s corporate headquarters, three warehouse locations, four satellite offices, and the American Cotton Growers (ACG) denim mill.

“Basically, anything with a dollar sign attached to it passes through our accounting department,” says Sam Hill, PCCA’s vice president of finance. “The amount of work done by the 13 people who make up the department is amazing,” he adds.

At PCCA, each position in the accounting department is highly specialized with each clerk and accountant having their own areas of responsibility. The clerks begin the accounting process by recording all financial information (both dollars and bales) regarding the transactions and activities of each division of the cooperative into the general ledger. At the end of each month, a detailed review and reconciliation of individual account activity and balances is performed by the clerks and staff accountants.

Finally, the staff accountants prepare reports based on the information accumulated during the accounting process _ including financial statements, tax returns, and various government filings. Measuring profit and loss by division is a very important task the accountants perform; a task that depends on the accuracy of the information recorded by the clerks. The accounting department’s measurement of profit and loss by division is the basis for pool progress payments and the patronage dividends allocated by the cooperative at the end of the fiscal year.

“We have a number of employees who have been with us for several years and some that have started in the last year or two which provides a good blend of experience in the department,” Hill says. “However, Gayle McCullough is the primary reason the department runs so smoothly. She is in the unique position of knowing how to perform almost every job she supervises because she worked her way up through the ranks.”

As controller, McCullough supervises the activities of the accounting department’s employees. A native of Lockney, Texas, she decided to rejoin the workforce after her children enrolled in high school. Armed with an accounting degree from Texas Tech University, she started to work at PCCA in 1987 as a banking clerk. After only one year, she was promoted to a supervisory position. McCullough also served as accounting manager before obtaining her Certified Public Accounting (CPA) certificate and accepting the position of controller in 1996.

“The hustle and bustle of the accounting department provides for an exciting place to work,” McCullough says. “The amount of paperwork that comes through our office is astounding, and at the end of the month everything must balance,” she explains.

When McCullough began working in the accounting department there was one central computer used by all employees in the department. Most of the accounting was done in hand-posted ledgers with summary totals keyed into the main computer. Fortunately, technology developed as quickly as PCCA grew.

“It would be impossible to keep up with the financial information of a company this large without the technology we now have available,” McCullough says. “There are many checks and balances in our daily practices, and we always keep the budget in mind. We have great technology, but we also have great people who know how to do their jobs well,” she concludes.

A portion of the accounting department’s duties also includes the collection of payments for denim produced at ACG. Ken Spain, PCCA’s credit manager, is in direct contact with approximately 100 companies, both foreign and domestic, who buy denim from ACG. Spain ensures each customer’s credit is in order and monitors timely payment of invoices.

Knowledge of the cotton business, coupled with experience in credit management, has made Spain an asset to PCCA. Raised in Olton, Texas, Spain earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Texas Tech University in 1976. A cotton buyer for most of the ensuing 20 years, he also worked as a credit manager for the Dover Corporation before accepting a position as PCCA’s credit manager in 2004.

“As a cotton buyer, I always had the utmost respect for PCCA and felt the organization’s reputation was above reproach,” Spain says. “I was very excited about coming to work for the coop, and I truly enjoy my job.”

The accounting department’s responsibilities for inventory reconciliation, credit management, daily banking activities, account analysis, financial statement preparation and review, and the annual audit are of critical importance to the well being of the cooperative.

“The secret to having a productive and successful department is having good employees,” Hill says. “I’m proud to say each employee in PCCA’s accounting department is highly professional, knowledgeable, and truly cares about their job.”

Editor’s Note

Numerous changes occurred at Plains Cotton Cooperative Association (PCCA) during 2004 including personnel, policies and member services. To introduce PCCA members to the cooperative’s staff and the services provided, Commentator will feature one department in each of the next several issues.