Keith Mixon has seen it all as a cotton ginner. On the surface, that’s a pretty bold statement to make. However, when you’re a fourth-generation ginner, it makes perfect sense. Because, if truth be known, you have seen every kind of problem at a gin with such a family history.
For that reason, the manager of Carson County Gin in White Deer, Texas, just east of Amarillo, is the perfect choice to be president of the Texas Cotton Ginners Association.
Mixon approaches the responsibility knowing that these are difficult times for all sectors of the cotton industry.
“I think it will definitely be exciting being the TCGA president,” says Mixon. “I’ve worked with Jim Bradford and David Wyatt for the last couple of years, so it should be a smooth transition.”
“On the other hand, we have big challenges ahead of us. That’s why I think the theme of our annual meeting this year will be quite relevant (Meeting The Challenges).”
Mixon’s gin is located in the northernmost region of the state, and he’s seen firsthand how the current economic environment can affect a business. The Carson County Gin processed 38,040 bales in 2008, but that’s down from its usual output.
This is Mixon’s second year as gin manager. Prior to assuming the position in White Deer, he had a similar job at Ocho Gin Company in Seminole, Texas. His great-grandfather built the first family gin in Runge, Texas, just south of San Antonio in 1900.
“You name it, and I’ve probably had to deal with it in my ginning career,” he says. “I think the biggest crisis that we’re facing as an industry is the global economic problem. If we can somehow weather this storm for the next couple of years, I think we can come out on the other side in pretty good shape.”
While the economic situation stabilizes, Mixon is convinced that all ginners should focus on making their operations even more efficient. He cites numerous areas where cost-savings can be achieved – including labor, electricity, gas and improved machinery.
“A cotton gin doesn’t know if it’s running or not,” he says. “By that, I mean that the gin doesn’t know if you’re producing 45 bales an hour or 20 bales. There are always built-in costs that we need to monitor closely.”
Mixon also believes that ginners must adapt to new technologies now on the market – such as the on-board module systems launched by Case IH and John Deere.
“When we know that something new is headed our way, we have to be ready to adjust and adapt,” he adds. “That’s how a gin survives. If a producer has one of those moduling systems, it’s our job to have the capability to work with that equipment.”
Adjusting to changing acreage levels of all crops is already having an effect on ginners. This trend might not be as noticeable in Texas, but it is still an issue that bears watching, according to Mixon.
Corn acreage in northern Texas has increased, but Mixon wonders how long that trend will continue after recent drops in corn prices. As for wheat and milo in his area, he doesn’t think those crops will be profitable in the long run.
Mixon believes it will be wise for TCGA to keep its eyes focused on what is happening in Washington as the country tries to deal with the economic crisis. When the economy does turn around, he anticipates a healthy comeback for cotton.
“Keep in mind that our organization has been around for 102 years,” he says. “We’ve weathered two world wars and the Great Depression. We know something about surviving and dealing with adversity. We’ll weather this storm as well.
“It’s all about sticking together and doing what we have to do.”
Besides having the assistance of the TCGA staff during his year as the organization’s president, Keith can count on the support of his own family – wife Kim and sons Kyle, Kerry and Thomas.
Keith Mixon’s Career
• Manager of Carson County Gin
• Lives in White Deer, Texas
• Fourth-generation ginner
• Wife Kim and three sons – Kyle (21), Kerry (19) and Thomas (16).
• Previously worked at Ocho Gin in Seminole, Texas.
• Great grandfather built first family gin in Runge, Texas, in 1900.