Field Services Staff Provides Link Between PCCA and Its Members
PCCA’s Field staff is a personal, “direct link” between the cooperative and its members and gin customers. The nine-person staff spends the majority of each year on the road visiting growers and gins as well as attending key industry meetings. All the while, the team strives to keep PCCA members and gins informed about their cooperative, its programs, and new developments in the cotton industry.
The department provides an array of services to PCCA members and their cooperative gins. The staff offers direct support for all gin bookkeeping needs and helps troubleshoot scale ticket problems during ginning season. The dissemination of information also is the responsibility of the Field Services department, and a large portion of that information is dispersed when representatives speak at the annual meetings of each PCCA cooperative gin customer.
“Every business relies heavily on communication to its customers, some by television, some by radio, and others by phone,” explains Dean Church, PCCA’s vice president of Grower Services. “Business in the cotton industry still relies very much on a “face-to-face” relationship; therefore, at PCCA, the direct communication link is through our Field Services group.”
In addition to support services available directly to PCCA’s customer-gins, Field Services employees also are responsible for maintaining consistent communication with the gin staff who then relay valuable information to PCCA members.
“It’s a tremendous responsibility to be the courier of information between our customers and our management, and we are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of employees to handle that task,” says Church. “I understand how productive this flow of information can be in achieving common goals between the producer and the coop because I spent a portion of my career as a field representative. They were some of the most rewarding years I’ve spent with PCCA,” Church explains.
Texas High Plains Area
PCCA’s Lubbock, Texas, office serves as a headquarters for the Field Services department. In addition to servicing gins on the Texas High Plains, the Lubbock staff answers calls from members and gins throughout the cooperative’s service area in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Scott Stockton, director of field services, manages the six-person staff at PCCA’s headquarters.
Stockton, a Wolfforth, Texas, native, graduated from Texas Tech University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Education. He worked at the Texas Department of Agriculture and the National Cotton Council before joining PCCA’s field staff in 1994. He later became a Field Services supervisor, and in 2004, he accepted a position as the director of Field Services.
“Scott Stockton’s experience in the field is a tremendous strength for PCCA in meeting the needs of our members,” Church says. “Scott previously worked for the National Cotton Council as a field representative and understands the importance of communication.
“I’m really proud of our department,” Stockton explains. “Our people are hard-working, intelligent, and conscientious, and they work well together to get things done in a timely and professional manner.”
Field Services Representative Amanda Jo Harman left Color Spot Nurseries in 2005 to begin a career at PCCA. Originally from Happy, Texas, she received a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Pest Management from Texas Tech University. She also holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Education with an emphasis in Communications from the university. She admits that she has always had an interest in agriculture.
“Our family has been farming in Swisher County for five generations,” Harman explains. “My dad raised cotton, sunflowers, sorghum and haygrazer, and we were active in 4-H. Agriculture always has been in my life, and my work at PCCA has been very rewarding.”
Harman spends the majority of her time visiting gins on the Texas High Plains. She also conducts crop condition and bale count surveys to provide PCCA’s marketing staff with the latest and most comprehensive information possible.
The Field Services staff also is critical in maintaining and training PCCA’s gin customers in the use of its scale ticket and bookkeeping software. The staff is well versed in accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, fuel invoicing, general ledger, inventory, and financial reporting activities. The field staff also performs several clerical duties for the gins such as running gin patronage software to create dividend checks, handling both qualified and non-qualified equities, and printing tax forms.
Steven White, Gin Bookkeeping supervisor, has been with PCCA for almost four years. Originally from Coleman, Texas, he graduated from Texas Tech University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics.
White oversees the AccPac Gin Bookkeeping and the scale ticket programs, conducts program training, trouble-shoots bookkeeping problems, and informs the gins and patrons of PCCA’s activities and progress. During ginning season, field representatives are on call after regular business hours and are available during the weekend for gin personnel with urgent questions or problems.
“I worked here for only one year before I took over as Gin Bookkeeping supervisor, and I owe my successes to the training I received from past field representatives,” says White. “When I was thrown into the job it was a sink or swim situation, and I think I’m swimming,” he says with a grin.
Caitlin Dooley assists White in the Gin Bookkeeping segment of Field Services as a Gin Accounting representative. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and recently began graduate school to work toward a master’s degree in Marketing. Growing up near San Antonio, Texas, with no experience in agriculture, Dooley never dreamed she would one day work for a cotton cooperative.
“I had to learn about cotton literally from the ground up when I started working here a year ago, and I’m learning more and more each day,” Dooley says. “I’ve really enjoyed working here because almost weekly I go to towns I’ve never heard of before to work with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” she adds.
Terri Evans, administrative assistant, and Sara Bennett, gin bookkeeping clerk, offer support to the department by answering phone calls, helping with gin bookkeeping/scale ticket problems, and data entry.
“I always thought I wanted to work in the medical field, but I kept finding myself in agricultural careers,” Evans says. “I grew up on a cotton and hog farm in Idalou, Texas, later worked at the Lubbock County Farm Service Agency and Hurst Farm Supply, and for the last five years I’ve been with PCCA. I guess I’m meant to work in the ag field; it must be my calling,” she adds.
Bennett is the newest addition to the Lubbock Field Services staff. She worked at PCCA as a receptionist for 10 months before she was promoted to gin bookkeeping clerk in October 2007. Currently, she attends college courses several evenings each week.
“I really like the group of people I work with at PCCA,” Bennett commented. “I enjoyed being the receptionist here, but it’ll be a great learning experience to work in Field Services.”
PCCA’s large service area makes it impossible for the Lubbock field staff to personally visit all of the cooperative’s member gins. Therefore, Field Services representatives work out of PCCA’s warehouse facilities in Sweetwater, Texas, Altus, Okla., and Liberal, Kan.
“Though we traditionally think of Field Services as those employees officing in Lubbock, others like Allen Hoelscher, Randy Squires, and Dick Cooper play a critical role in servicing our customer base outside the Lubbock area,” Church explains.
Texas Rolling Plains Area
In 1997, armed with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech University, Allen Hoelscher accepted a field representative position in PCCA’s Lubbock office. A short time later, he transferred to Grower Services and was promoted to supervisor. His career came full-circle when he once again joined the field staff in 2006 and moved to Sweetwater, Texas, to service the cooperative’s Rolling Plains-area gins as PCCA’s representative.
“Allen’s years of experience in both Field Services and Grower Services make him a valuable asset to our members and customer gins on the Rolling Plains,” Stockton says. “He grew up on a farm in Garden City, so he knows the area and the people there quite well.”
Top of Texas and Oklahoma Area
After seven years as a field representative, gins in Oklahoma and Northern Texas have come to depend on Randy Squires for most of their gin bookkeeping needs. A Hobart, Okla., native, Squires graduated with a degree in Agricultural Education from Oklahoma State University and worked for Farmers Insurance Group before coming to PCCA. When he is not out on the road, Squires offices out of PCCA’s Oklahoma Cotton Cooperative Association (OCCA) office in Altus, Okla.
Northern Oklahoma and Kansas Area
Cotton was a relatively new crop to Kansas producers when Dick Cooper first began his position as the director of Business Development in Kansas/Northern Oklahoma four years ago. In fact, the cotton crop there increased dramatically from just 4,449 bales in 1996 to more than 150,000 bales in 2006, making it necessary for PCCA to move a full-time employee to Kansas to service its members’ gins. Cooper, who was the director of Field Services in the Lubbock office for six years, was the perfect candidate to represent PCCA in the state.
Originally from Ames, Okla., Cooper received a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Oklahoma State University and went on to teach vocational agriculture in Jet, Okla. He later was a regional sales manager for Farmland Industries and was the Texas operations manager for Triangle Companies before accepting a position as the director of Field Services at PCCA.
Cooper now shoulders the responsibility for the maintenance and growth of the cotton industry in the Northern Oklahoma and Kansas area in addition to providing services similar to those of a field representative.
He offices out of OCCA’s warehouse in Liberal, Kan., where he services each of the four Kansas gin locations and the cooperative gin in Blackwell, Okla. Cooper also was instrumental in creating the Kansas Cotton Association which already is recognized nationally for its leadership.
Although PCCA’s territory covers three states, the distance from the cooperative’s Lubbock headquarters office to its members is shortened by contact with a local Field Services representative.
“In order for members to realize our commitment to serving them, it’s important that we effectively communicate–not only through publications and our web site, but most importantly, through everyday contact with members and customer gins,” Church says. “The staff works hard to maintain and strengthen the cooperative/member relationship and support gin managers and bookkeepers. They provide a valuable service to the cooperative.”