Was Buzz Cooper born to be a gin manager?
That depends on who does the talking
in the family these days. When he
graduated from Texas Tech University many years ago
and earned a degree in ag education, he didn’t plan
on following in his father’s footsteps.
Circumstances, however, have a way of changing
everything. Buzz grew up in Ralls, Texas, and had
worked in the gin with his father, who was managing
Ralls Co-op Gin at the time. After finishing college,
Buzz found himself running the C&R Gin in Ralls in
1974 and became a partner with the owner. Once he
started down this path, he never looked back.
It was also about this time that he met his wife Kim
at Texas Tech. She is a native of Quanah, Texas, and
was Miss Rodeo Texas when Buzz met her in college.
Kim wanted to pursue a career in teaching but joined
Southwest Airlines and has worked there for 31 years
as a flight attendant. As unlikely as their two careers
may seem, they have a mutual appreciation for how
agriculture has influenced their family – especially as
it pertains to sons Bonner and Ross.
Bonner earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree
from Texas A&M and operates his own management
company and is still involved in professional rodeo
competition. Meanwhile, Ross is a senior communications
major at Texas A&M and is involved in rodeo
competition on the college level.
Buzz believes that new technology has significantly
improved ginning efficiency, resulting in larger gins
with more capacity. This scenario drove the decision
for Union Co-op Gin and Wilson Co-op Gin to merge
in 2004, creating Texas Star Co-op Gin. In the two
gins’ best year, total output was 145,000 bales. Last
year, the Union gin handled 32,000 bales, and the
Wilson gin handled 65,000 bales.
Meanwhile, how important is it to have friends in
the ginning industry? Cooper recalls a module fire at
one of his gins several years ago. He made a few calls,
and, within a few minutes, Dan Taylor, Cary Eubanks
and David Wied and their crews showed up with 19
module trucks to help out.
“I think that pretty much tells you how loyal our
friends are,” he says. “We’re there to help each other
at any time of the night or day.”