It takes a team effort for a cotton gin to succeed in today’s highly competitive environment. And nowhere is that more obvious than at Buster’s Gin in Ropesville,Texas.
That’s where you’ll find Dan and Linda Taylor doing all the things necessary to help process the cotton of their many producer customers on the High Plains.
This husband and wife work so well together that it was only natural that they would be honored as the Texas Cotton Ginners Association’s “Ginners of the Year.”
For 34 years, the Taylors have taken care of other farmers’ cotton as if it were their own.
Both grew up on farms in Texas, but it wasn’t until 1975 that their career paths finally led to their current address in Ropesville.
After both graduated from Texas Tech University in 1964 and 1965 respectively, they found themselves working as teachers. Then, after vowing that he wouldn’t get involved in farming, Dan made a surprising move when he left his teaching job to join Buster’s Gin as manager in 1975.
A year later, Linda would follow him as office manager, and the rest of the story is history. After partnering with the original gin owner, Buster McNabb, the Taylors became sole owners in 1986.
TCGA officials decided to make Dan and Linda co-recipients of this year’s award because they are truly a team that oversees all aspects of the ginning operation.
“I was really shocked when I heard that we had won this award,” says Linda. “I don’t know what to say. For one time in my life, I’m speechless. All I can say is that’s it’s been a wonderful journey for Dan and me.”
Linda’s background didn’t give her many opportunities to learn about cotton. Her father ran a small farming operation that mostly consisted of cattle, sheep and goats. And, even after she and Dan were married in 1964, she still couldn’t have imagined that she would become so involved in cotton ginning.
However, that all changed when she walked into the gin in 1976 to work as the office manager. The Taylor children – DeLinda, Darrell and Davon – certainly were familiar with the gin. As youngsters, they spent a lot of time there when Linda decided to help out Dan in various chores.
“I had very little knowledge of cotton,” she says. “I knew that cotton ginning was a real passion for Dan, and it became that way for me, too. I learned through my experiences, and here we are today.”
How far has Buster’s Gin progressed in the last 30 years? Quite a bit, if you look at the numbers. In 1977, Buster’s processed 2,900 bales. In 2007, the total output was 116,369 bales. The customer base has increased steadily through the years, and Linda says it’s all because of how they treat farmers in the area.
The Taylors don’t take anything for granted when it comes to their customers, who also are their neighbors and friends in the community.
When big crops cause backlogs at the gin, the Taylors quickly contract with other gins to make sure a farmer’s cotton is processed in a timely fashion. If problems occur with service to a producer, the Taylors not only try to deal with the situation immediately, but their friends say they send out gift certificates so the customer knows he is appreciated and not being taken for granted.
Even though she didn’t learn about cotton until after she was married, Linda is one of Texas cotton’s best ambassadors.
“Agriculture has fed and clothed me,” she says without hesitation. “It’s been my life, and I couldn’t be prouder of having that heritage and being a part of it.”
Dan echoes his wife’s feelings when it comes to ginning and the importance of the Texas cotton industry.
After talking to him, it’s obvious that he is proud that his wife is such an integral part of the history and success of Buster’s Gin. He’s also appreciative that all three of his children earned degrees in agriculture while attending college.
Not surprisingly, Davon and DeLinda have worked at the gin in various capacities. Davon has been assistant gin manager, and now works part-time. Most of her responsibilities are in customer relations.
DeLinda and Linda have a crop insurance business and work out of the gin office. DeLinda also helps with the gin accounting.
As if that weren’t enough to keep everybody busy, Dan and Linda also have a farming operation, and that’s where DeLinda’s husband Thomas makes a big contribution. He helps Dan run the family farm but also has his own acreage and is a producer customer at Buster’s Gin.
“Our philosophy at the gin has been to try and grow slowly and pay as we go for new equipment,” says Dan. “That way, we don’t carry a big debt load. We also like to embrace technology and try to stay as efficient as possible.”
As for his wife and co-honoree, Dan isn’t too shy about complimenting her.
“Linda is amazing,” he says without hesitation. “She is a very community-minded person, and the customers love her. But we are also supported by a fabulous group of gin employees. Our success is because of the teamwork we have at the gin.”
Spoken like a proud husband who will be even prouder when he and his wife accept the TCGA award on April 3.
Dan and Linda Taylor’s Cotton Ginning Career
• Owners of Buster’s Gin.
• Graduates of Texas Tech Univ.
• Became full-time owners in 1986.
• Gin processed 116,369 bales in ‘07.
• Active in community and industry.
• Help fund scholarshipsat Texas Tech.
• Dan is vice president of Texas FFA.
• Have three children – daughters Davon and DeLinda, and son Darrell.
• Founding members of American Museum of Agriculture in Lubbock.