To those persons who have never seen the new Kiech-Shauver-Miller Gin in Monette, Ark., here’s the description used most often after visitors tour the facility: “You have to see it to appreciate it.”
Others might invoke that famous line from the Kevin Costner baseball movie, “Field of Dreams.”
“If you build it, they will come.”
The stockholders of the old gin, which operated for nearly 45 years, did the unthinkable about a year ago. With the help and guidance of Cherokee Fabrication, construction began on a new state-of-the-art gin, giving cotton producers in northeast Arkansas access to one of the most technologically-advanced gins in the world.
That is not an exaggeration.
Many skeptics might think that a high-speed gin can’t protect cotton fiber. And those same skeptics also might think that it is unwise to invest during current economic conditions .
Those skeptics, however, never met gin owner Maleisa Finch and her gin manager, Dewayne Couch. These two persons, with the help of Roy Owens, Jonas Noe, Paul Owens and Jerry Scrabrough of Cherokee Fabrication, defied all of the odds.
The new operation has three gin stands, one being the Cherokee Mag-num 244, supposedly the largest gin stand in the world. The other two gin stands are Avenger 174 units.
Maximum capacity of the new gin is about 70,000 bales, according to Finch. Right now, during this first season, output will be around 40,000bales as the operation adapts to the new equipment.
The new gin is all computer-driven and every aspect of the process is monitored. At one point during this first season, the gin was moving about 65 bales an hour. This is nearly three times the output of the older gin.
It took about 10 weeks to process all of the cotton from local farmers. As Finch and her team look ahead to 2012, she can anticipate ginning the cotton much quicker – and conceivably finishing in 35 to 40 days.
“It is unbelievable how exciting this is,” says Finch who is the daughter of the late Raymond Miller, the gin’s owner/manager for 40 years.
“This was my dad’s dream 10 years ago, and he prepared us for the day when we would make this kind of step into the future. We had a choice of either trying to update the old gin or moving forward and making an investment for our farmer customers.”
Initial discussions about building a new gin started in February of 2010. That is when Cherokee officials began discussing the project with Finch and Couch. Those discussions would continue into the fall, culminating in a presentation to the gin’s stockholders.
Groundbreaking on the new gin occurred in January of 2011, and the facility was running by October of 2011. Had it not been for some delays caused by changing levels of underground water tables, the gin could have been completed by late August.
“The stockholders were receptive when we pitched our idea to them,” says Finch. “They also knew that I wasn’t going to be ready unless I was prepared to make a full commitment. They trust Dewayne and me for anything that needs to be done.”
The reaction of the gin’s farmer customers has been extremely positive, according to Finch. As expected, the gin has preserved lint quality, and premiums have ranged between four and 5.5 cents on loan cotton. That amounts to an additional $20 to $25 per bale.
Finch says the partnership between the gin and its customers is crucial because it takes both sides working together to deliver the best possible product to textile mills.
“That’s why we are so adamant about doing our part in this process,” she says. “The farmers produce the yields and quality. It is then up to us to finish the job and take care of that cotton.”
Impressive High-Tech Gin
As for the mesmerizing Cherokee Magnum 244 gin stand, which resembles something you might find at NASA, both Couch and Finch remain in awe of how it operates.
Finch says she sometimes stares at the gin stand and marvels at how it works.”
“It makes you want to stay here at the gin 24 hours a day,” she says. “You can’t rest at night. It’s that exciting.”
Meanwhile, Couch thinks the Magnum 244 has a mind of its own.
“I’ve been around machines all of my life, and I think I know how to communicate with them,” he says. “ I look at how it operates, and I know we made the right decision to build this gin.”
The first season was memorable for the Kiech-Shauver-Miller Gin. Next year could be one for the record books.
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Located in Monette, Ark.
• New gin opened in October 2011
• Three gin stands
• Cherokee Fabrication system.
• Two seed houses.
• Four bale warehouses.
• Capacity of 70,000 bales.