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Growing Up Gallian

In the Central Valley of California the name Gallian is synonymous with cotton and the cotton industry. It all started with Quentin “Tennessee” Gallian building one of the first gins in 1950, known as Visalia Co-Op Cotton Gin.

Pa, as we called him, boasted about an industry that surrounded him with family and friendship. Little did he know that two of his sons and a granddaughter would follow his passion. Pa paved the way to what we call “Growing Up Gallian.”

As a young female, I was in awe of the cotton industry and what it meant to our family. Two generations of Gallians working under the same roof. In 1964, my dad went to work at the gin driving a spreader truck. The manager saw something positive in him and promoted dad to assistant manager, where he reigned as the longest running assistant gin manager. He was promoted to manager of operations in 1983 where he oversaw Grandpa Tennessee, superintendent; and Uncle Gary, head ginner. In 1985, Grandpa retired and Uncle Gary was named superintendent. The legacy continued.

As a young female, I was in awe of the cotton industry and what it meant to our family. Two generations of Gallians working under the same roof. In 1964, my dad went to work at the gin driving a spreader truck. The manager saw something positive in him and promoted dad to assistant manager, where he reigned as the longest running assistant gin manager. He was promoted to manager of operations in 1983 where he oversaw Grandpa Tennessee, superintendent; and Uncle Gary, head ginner. In 1985, Grandpa retired and Uncle Gary was named superintendent. The legacy continued.

I remember the years well. Taking cotton stalks, mini bales and cottonseed to show and tell in elementary school. Learning to drive on the gin yard with all my cousins. Taking friends to play in the cottonseed piles for endless hours of fun and laughs. Traveling all over California in high school participating in cotton judging and Parliamentary Procedure teams for Future Farmers of America.

As my high school years progressed, I wondered where my future would take me. I knew it would be agriculture but was unaware of which path. In 1987, I was crowned Tulare County Maid of Cotton. My job duties were to represent growers, ginners, families and friends of Tulare County in the cotton industry. Public speaking engagements, parades, luncheons, fashions shows and endless conferences opened my eyes and my heart as to where my path would go. Being a part of this “cotton” family was the answer to the question, what will I do in my future? I enrolled at College of Sequoias where I received my AS in agriculture business and then went on to Fresno State University.

I decided to take a break from the agriculture scene and try my hand at owning my own business. With the help of my mom, we embarked on a 10-year course of retail proprietorship. Learning people skills, sales and responsibility gave me the strength and education I would need in my future.

A downturn in the local economy brought our business to an end in 1999, and I went to work for Langston Companies Inc. as the secretary. This job taught me the second leg to cotton production, the packaging end. Joe Hart, my supervisor, encouraged me to go back to school and finish my BS in agriculture business. His philosophy was for me to come back to Langston one day and be a salesperson. I agreed and again enrolled in Fresno State. At the age of 36 I achieved one of my life’s goals and graduated from college.

Moving out of the cotton industry again took me on a path filled with musicians and festivities. Ten years of sales, research and marketing in media brought excitement but not fulfillment. After hearing of an open sales position in March 2010, I returned to Langston Companies Inc. Selling bagging and ties to my fellow friends and family members brought me closer to home. A tight knit group of old faces, new faces and welcomed loved ones drew me back to my heritage — cotton. Today, I feel as though I never left.

On Dec. 31, 2006, Visalia Co-Op Cotton Gin closed its gates. A sad day for the Gallian family. I remember my dad saying, “There was a Gallian in charge of the gin the day it was built and a Gallian in charge the day it closed.” It was “Growing Up Gallian.”

— Niki Gallian
Sales, Langston Companies Inc.
Visalia, Calif.
ngallian@langstonbag.com