The Evolution of PCCA
By Blair McCowen
On a windblown West Texas day in 1953, Lubbock area cotton farmers came together to solve a problem. Looking for a way to get the best possible price for their cotton, these producers founded Plains Cotton Cooperative Association with a little financial assistance from Plains Cooperative Oil Mill, today known as PYCO Industries, Inc. Now, 64 years later, PCCA serves the grower-owners of today and tomorrow by following the same values it was founded upon with a modern-day approach – conducting business by and for farmers.
Never Despise Small Beginnings
“In 1953, PCCA began with just one division – marketing,” wrote Darryl Lindsey, former Vice President of Operations in a 1992 write up of the cooperative’s history. “Cotton marketing at that time had changed very little in the preceding 100 years. For 10 years, PCCA struggled with the low-margin nature of cotton marketing, providing a basic service but offering little financial return such as year-end dividends.”
Though PCCA had yet to uncover its potential to become a world-class cotton marketing cooperative at that time, the winds of change were beginning to stir the West Texas dust. Employees worked hard to improve the operations of the cooperative for the farmers who founded it and used its services – to keep things modern and efficient. As a result, membership expanded further into Texas and Oklahoma due to an increased interest for PCCA’s services among the cotton-growing community. Warehouses were built in the new service areas, including Altus, Oklahoma, and Sweetwater, Texas. In addition, PCCA became the first company to use a computer to process cotton sales. By 1975, TELCOT was developed by PCCA and revolutionized the cotton marketing industry, Lindsey wrote.
Other revolutionary developments came along in the years after, from the creation of TELMARK (1985) Electronic Warehouse Receipts (1989), and The Seam® (2001) to Member Access (2003), Module Tracking (2013), and Scale Capture (2014) services. Each new and modern development added value and stability to PCCA grower-owners’ bottom line then and continues to do so now. The cooperative that began with one division and a few farmers has expanded its resources, talents and abilities to provide its grower-owners financial stability even during the worst of times.
A Cooperative of Today and Tomorrow
Many components of PCCA have evolved since 1953, from directors, employees and departments to cutting edge technologies and more. When grower-owners’ needs change with each passing crop year, PCCA adjusts accordingly to provide the best service possible to grower-owners and gins. The PCCA Board of Directors provides grower-owners with the same opportunity to voice concerns, present solutions to problems, and oversee operations to best serve the interest of the farmer today just like in the early 1950s. Just as the board oversees the operations of PCCA employees, a Delegate Body made up of representatives from 104 cooperative gins provides input on various issues to members of the board.
Today, PCCA is composed of many moving parts. What started with just one division and a few employees has transformed into a business with 32 departments and 172 employees across areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
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Though it did not come easily, today PCCA is able to pay out dividends every year and provide the best cotton marketing services in the business. For the 2016-17 crop, our cooperative paid out $21.83 million in cash dividends and stock retirements totaling $15.51 million. Understanding where PCCA came from – where our roots are – is key to discovering where we can go next.