Therrell Pierce, Boyce, La., has witnessed a lot of changes in cotton during his 36 years in the ginning business, but a constant, he says, is the kind of people who work in and manage gins.
“It’s not like the dog-eat-dog mentality of other industries,” he says. “If a nearby gin has a part break, other gins will help. We’re all in it together,” he said in remarks following acceptance of the Southern Cotton Ginners’ Association’s Ginner of the Year Award.
The award was presented during the association’s annual honors banquet, on the eve of the Mid-South Far and Gin show, Feb. 28, in Memphis, Tenn.
Pierce, manager of the McNutt Gin Company, said he was both honored and humbled by the award. “I’ve worked with a lot of talented people, and I am thankful for the people and the experiences. I am especially thankful for my wife of 52 years, Barbara, especially for her love and patience.
“This is a very humbling experience, and I have enjoyed seeing cotton people I have known for a long time.”
He says the cotton ginning industry has seen a lot of changes since the 1970s. “The mechanics have not changed all that much, but the changes in electronics, monitoring and bale handling are processes we couldn’t have dreamed of in 1970s.”
Cotton good option
He expects cotton to continue to be a good option for the area served by McNutt Gin. Acreage has remained stable, even while cotton has declined in other parts of the state. “This little pocket is better suited for cotton than any other crop,” he says. “That has been a factor in keeping this gin in business.”
He says a cotton gin has been on the McNutt Gin site since at least as far back as 1929. “We’re in a good location. The Red River Valley produces some of the best cotton and the best cottonseed.”
He expects that to continue. “We think cotton acreage in this area will increase from 5 to 15 percent this year. The future of cotton here is very stable.”
A critical concern, he adds, is a shortage of trained gin workers. “Not many young people consider cotton ginning as an occupation.”
Therrell and Barbara have three children. A son, Curtis, works in the gin. Daughter Melissa Hoyt is the office manager. They have another daughter, Lesa. Pierce credits his family and his faith for his achievements.