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Cotton leaders recognized

Dave Ruppenicker, Drake Perrow, and Allen McLaurin received awards for their contributions to the cotton industry.

John Hart

February 1, 2024

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Cotton industry leaders Dave Ruppenicker, Drake Perrow, and Allen McLaurin were recognized for their contributions to the cotton industry during the annual meeting of Southern Cotton Growers and Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association Jan. 22 to 23 at the Westin Hilton Head Resort in Hilton Head Island, S.C. 

Ruppenicker, retired Southern Cotton Growers CEO, received the Hall of Honor award while Perrow received the 2023 Ginner of the Year award, and McLaurin received the Producer Recognition award.  

In presenting the award to Ruppenicker, Southern Cotton Growers President Joe Martin, a Conway, N.C. cotton farmer, said the Hall of Honor award is not bestowed to an office or position held, but on the merits of one’s contributions to the Southeast cotton industry and the individual’s high degree of character and integrity demonstrated throughout a career in the industry.  

Hall of Honor Award 

Only six Hall of Honor awards have been presented since the first in 2001. 

“I took many rides with Dave, and I think he said he even designed the award if I’m not mistaken. I can’t think of a better person for this award. It’s been an honor working with you through the years, and we appreciate your service,” Martin said.  

“Of all the things I wanted to say, I guess I’ll just sum it up: I love you guys. I loved the job. To Jim (Davis, the current CEO of Southern Cotton Growers), and Dusty (Findley, CEO of Southeastern Cotton Ginners), y’all might want to tighten up the rules for this award,” Ruppenicker said to appreciative laughter from the ginners and famers at the meeting. 

Related:Ruppenicker saw many changes in 43 years of cotton

“It’s a true honor. I’ve been very blessed.  I started this journey in 1980. I went to work for Farm Bureau. To tell you the truth, I had to study up on what Farm Bureau was before I went on the interview. The rest is history. I worked there about 14 years, seven years at another cotton industry organization in north Louisiana, then here 23 years and a half so God’s been good to me,” Ruppenicker said. 

Prior recipients of the Hall of Honor award are Bob Tucker, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Bobby Webster, Billy Carter, Roy Baxley, and John Maguire.  

Ruppenicker retired as CEO of Southern Cotton Growers on Dec. 31 while Davis officially took over as CEO on Jan. 1. Davis is a fifth-generation farmer and a National Cotton Council member services representative from New Market, Ala. prior to taking the helm at Southern. 

Ginner of the Year Award 

Drake Perrow, owner of Cameron Cotton and Seed in Cameron, S.C, received the 2023 Ginner of the Year award. In presenting the award to Perrow, Jim Holstein, secretary of Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association and owner of Culler-Holstein Gin in North, S.C. said the Perrow family has deep roots in their part of South Carolina. Some of the land the family farms were part of an original king’s grant in 1737. 

Holstein said Perrow grew up looking over a tractor steering wheel and always knew he would return to the family farm.  Following college and service in the National Guard, Perrow became a partner in the family farm and gin. Holstein said Perrow also found time to start a crop consulting business as well. 

“That consulting business is known all over for its progressiveness and consistency. He has earned praises from Extension people and other consultants far and wide and was named cotton consultant of the year just a few years ago. The one that takes so much of his time and his passion is the gin. His father and uncle owned a gin, and our recipient was brought in as a partner,” Holstein said. 

“Like the farm, the gin has deep roots going back to the early 1900s.  The family bought the current gin in the late 1970s, and our recipient was eventually made general manager,” Holstein said. 

Perrow has served as a director of Southeastern Cotton Ginners since the late 1990s. He has served as a board member of the National Cotton Ginners Association, a National Cotton Council delegate, and National Cotton Council board member. He is a past president of Southeastern Cotton Ginners. Perrow also serves on the S.C. Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation Board, the Southeastern Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation Board, and is a past president of Calhoun County Farm Bureau   

Perrow and wife Linda have two children, John, who does most of the farming, and Charlotte Perrow Law, a partner at Kinghorn Insurance Agency in Beaufort, S.C. They also have two grandchildren, Henry, and Kate Law.  

Producer Recognition Award 

McLaurin, farm manager at Z.V. Pate in Laurel Hill, N.C., received the Southern Cotton Growers Producer Recognition Award, the highest honor the association presents. The award was created in recognition of a cotton grower that has gone beyond the call of duty in the promotion of the cotton industry. 

Prior to joining Z.V. Pate, McLaurin managed his family farming operation. He currently serves on the Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors and on the board of Staplcotn. He is a past president of Southern Cotton Growers and a past president of the North Carolina Cotton Producers Association. 

McLaurin received a BS degree from Appalachian State University in Criminal Justice, Marketing and Management and a Master of Business Administration degree from Elon College.  

He is a trustee of the Scotland Memorial Hospital, and a board member of the Scotland Memorial Foundation. He has also served as a director on the Cotton Board, a producer delegate of the National Cotton Council, a director of Wachovia Bank, and is a former chairman of the Product Research Committee of Cotton, Incorporated.  

McLaurin was awarded the Laurinburg Jaycee’s “Outstanding Young Farmer” award in 1992 and was the state winner of the “Young Farm Leader” award by the North Carolina Soybean Association in 1993. He received Jaycee’s “Distinguished Service” award in 1996 and the Rotary Foundation’s “Paul Harris Fellow” in 2001. He was also presented the prestigious Boy Scouts of America’s “Silver Beaver Award” in 2002. 

McLaurin is married to the former Jane Burris. They have three children – John, Patricia, and David. They attend Laurinburg Presbyterian Church where McLaurin is an Elder. 

Since its inception in 1989, the award has been presented 16 times. Previous winners are Marshall Grant, Bobby Webster, Sykes Martin, Billy Carter, Hamill McNair, Tom Ingram, David Burns, Louie Perry, Ronnie Fleming, Hollis Isbell, Jimmy Sanford, Bob McLendon, Frank Rogers, Mike Tate, Jim Ferguson, and Jerry Hamill. 

In addition, Martin was recognized for his two years of service as president of Southern Cotton Growers. Martin now serves as chairman while Philip Edwards, a cotton farmer from Smithfield, Va., took over as president at the conclusion of Southern’s annual meeting Jan. 25.   

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About the Author(s)

John Hart

Associate Editor, Southeast Farm Press

John Hart is associate editor of Southeast Farm Press, responsible for coverage in the Carolinas and Virginia. He is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Prior to joining Southeast Farm Press, John was director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. He also has experience as an energy journalist. For nine years, John was the owner, editor and publisher of The Rice World, a monthly publication serving the U.S. rice industry.  John also worked in public relations for the USA Rice Council in Houston, Texas and the Cotton Board in Memphis, Tenn. He also has experience as a farm and general assignments reporter for the Monroe, La. News-Star.

John is a native of Lake Charles, La. and is a  graduate of the LSU School of Journalism in Baton Rouge.  At LSU, he served on the staff of The Daily Reveille.

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