Central Rolling Plains Gin Manager Larry Black loves his family. He beams with pride talking about his wife, Cynthia, daughters Alyssa and Madison and four grandchildren – Brayson, Kameron, Samuel and August.
But his definition of family goes far beyond his kin.
“Agriculture is the only job I’ve ever known,” Black said. “From producer to vendor, we’re all one big family.”
Black is quick to explain all five counties the co-op gin serves are integral to the family atmosphere and the agricultural spirit lives large across the board. Co-op gins are fiercely committed to giving back to community, and each community is equally devoted to agriculture.
“It’s an honor to be in this industry, because I believe it’s one of the few where we’d all drop whatever we’re doing to help each other out,” he said. “Even someone you may think is your fiercest competitor will be the first to be by your side – bringing you whatever you need in difficult times. You just don’t find that in any other industry.”
Now in his 38th season and deep into harvest, Black still makes sure to find time to give back to his community. He serves as a Deacon at his local First Baptist Church in Roscoe, Chairs the Water District, is a past President of both TACC and the Texas Cotton Ginners Association, and a delegate to the National Cotton Council and National Cotton Ginners Association.
“I’m fortunate to serve,” he said, “but I’m not at all alone. Everyone feels fortunate to serve in multiple ways.”
Within the gin, Black’s grower-owners are active on Co-op Advantage®️ regional co-sponsors PCCA and PYCO boards, as well as serving on local bank boards.
Black gets especially animated when talking about specific community involvement – namely the Roscoe school system that sets a national standard for rural education where seniors are able to graduate not only with a high school diploma, but also an Associate’s Degree under their belt.
“We are heavily involved in providing sponsorships and scholarships to the school system,” he said. “And beyond academics, we believe it’s important to support extracurricular activities from Little League to football, basketball, soccer and all sports in between.”
Keeping in mind the gin covers five counties, Black said it’s important also to support programs across all areas in FFA, stock shows, Children’s Advocacy, an annual Wind Festival and the list goes on.
“And I’d be remiss not to say our Board Secretary is the Fire Chief for the Nolan Volunteer Fire Department,” he said. “We’re glad to help, is the bottom line. We’ve been blessed, and in turn, it’s important we give back to help our communities.”
Black is quick to say each community is equally committed to giving back to the gin and all grower-owners.
“The community is agriculture,” he said. “Whether you’re a tire business owner, in the oil business, or in education, we’re all family. We all work to help each other, because as the community goes – so goes all business.”
Black is especially proud of the next generation of cotton producers, as they have developed an advisory board specific to involving young producers in order to engage them at a higher level for the future.
“Our young guys see things differently, and agriculture is changing,” he said. “Technology is becoming more and more necessary, and our younger producers know this. They understand technology and how it’s evolving so rapidly. We embrace the balance of our younger producers with our more seasoned grower-owners to prepare for the future.”
Reflecting on his own career, and preparing to celebrate a birthday, Black puts himself in the “seasoned” category.
“I started in the day of punch cards,” he said. “With the advance into technology, we’re now able to track one bale as easily as 10,000. How amazing is that?”
Optimistic about his immediate family, his agricultural family and his community family at every turn, Black’s enthusiasm for the co-op system is equally contagious.
“The co-op system allows power in numbers,” he said. “The more people working together, the better the product, the better the process and the better job you can do. I’m so thankful for our producers, and our focus always is to provide the best to those producers so they can put money in their bank account – and have pride every step of the way.”
That is The Co-op Advantage.